Books: High Diddle-Diddling

THE CONFIDENCE MAN IN AMERICAN LITERATURE by Gary Lindberg; Oxford; 319 pages; $19.95

Con artists are familiar figures in American literature, though they are usually directed through culture's back door. Their calling card was written by a 19th century popular comic character named Simon Suggs: "It is good to be shifty in a new country." Gary Lindberg's elaborate study The Confidence Man in American Literature, uses Suggs and his cronies as models to examine the national character. The task requires the assistance of that old critical handyman, ambivalence.

It is not news that public...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!