Melville, The Confidence Man

Confidence Man 1857 First Edition Title Page.jpg

“Upon which the other observed, that since the unfortunate man’s alleged experience could not be deemed very conciliatory towards a view of human nature better than human nature was, it largely redounded to his fair-mindedness, as well as piety, that under the alleged dissuasives, apparently so, from philanthropy, he had not, in a moment of excitement, been warped over to the ranks of the misanthropes.”

This is an actual sentence from the book I’m reading – The Confidence Man by Herman Melville. As you can see, the writing is complex, highly-punctuated, and awkward. It is also a very clever and witty book, full of social commentary and dramatic irony. I am about halfway through. I do not, in truth, expect to finish the book, which is not of inordinate length, anytime soon, given the limitations and, circumstances being what they are, stultification of my brain as the months flow by with no foreseeable deceleration of the aging process, inevitable as it tends to be despite our best efforts to hinder that implacable, albeit invisible, adversary.

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