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Pierre Or the Ambiguities by Herman Melville, William C. Spengemann, William C. Spengemann


Pierre Or the Ambiguities by Herman Melville, William C. Spengemann, William C. Spengemann

'Ambiguities indeed! One long brain-muddling, soul-bewildering ambiguity (to borrow Mr. Melville's style), like Melchisedeck, without beginning or end-a labyrinth without a clue - an Irish bog without so much as a Jack o'the'lantern to guide the wanderer's footsteps - the dream of a distempered stomach, disordered by a hasty supper on half-cooked pork chops. So judged the New York Herald when Pierre was first published in 1852, with most contemporary reviewers joining in the general condemnation: 'a dead failure,' 'this crazy rigmarole,' and a literary mare's nest. Latter-day critics have recognized in the story of Melville's idealistic young hero a corrosive satire of the

About the Author

Herman Melville (1819-91) became in his late twenties a highly successful author of exotic novels based on his experiences as a sailor - writing in quick succession Typee, Omoo, Redburn and White-Jacket. However, his masterpiece Moby-Dick was met with incomprehension and the other later works which are now the basis of his reputation, such as Bartleby, the Scrivener and The Confidence-Man, were failures. Melville stopped writing fiction and the rest of his long life was spent first as a lecturer and then, for nineteen years, as a customs official in New York City. He was also the author of the immensely long poem Clarel, which was similarly dismissed. At the end of his life he wrote Billy Budd, Sailor which was published posthumously in 1924.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th May 1996


Herman Melville, William C. Spengemann, William C. Spengemann

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Penguin Classics an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd


416 pages


Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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