Books: The Misanthrope

THE CONFIDENCE-MAN (392 pp.)—Herman Melville—Hendricks House ($4).

Herman Melville was in hock to his publishers and out of favor with his pubic. Moby Dick had provoked mixed reviews; its successor, Pierre, got savage ones. His readers wanted him to spin more of his early, popular South Sea romances such as Typee and Omoo. Exhausted and distraught, Melville developed neurotic mental tics and jumpy relatives made tentative moves to have him declared insane. His wife was soon to voice her special qualms in a letter to her mother: "Herman has taken to writing poetry. You...

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