Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10077/6232
Title: Invisible rivers, evanescent ships: American society and the erasure of space in Herman Melville’s "The Confidence Man"
Authors: Schiavini, Cinzia
Keywords: Space and identity in MelvilleMelville on American identityMelville’s disillusionment towards American societyAmerican society and space
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Cinzia Schiavini, “Invisible rivers, evanescent ships: American society and the erasure of space in Herman Melville’s "The Confidence Man"", in: Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali, XIV (2007), pp. 301-313
Series/Report no.: Prospero XIV
Abstract: In Herman Melville’s last novel, "The Confidence Man", space is completely absent: the action is set on a steamboat sailing down the Mississippi on Fools’ Day from Saint Louis to New Orleans, but ends without an explanation nearby Cairo. The scenario is never described, and this detail is more striking because space has always played a peculiar role in Melville’s work. Scholars have agreed upon the idea that Melville was trying to create a structure and a language that reflected his disillusionment towards the United States’ society, and, perhaps, the disappearance of the landscape from the narration is just another telling sign of the author’s set of mind. "The Confidence-Man" is Melville’s attempt to explore space and its meaning – that of the archetypical, symbolic core of the nation, rather than merely the geographical one. The archetypical significance of the ship and the river is what is explored in this analysis of "The Confidence-Man". Melville deconstructs space as he deconstructs the Con-Man: both are the sign of an American identity that is definitely lost, the signs of a broken confidence in American future.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10077/6232
ISSN: 1123-2684
Appears in Collections:2007 / 14 Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali

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