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am 25. Februar 1999
"Pierre," (written shortly after "Moby Dick") is called "The Book that ruined Melville." In fact, he never wrote another novel after "Pierre," but spent his last 40 years either unemployed or working as a customs official. But by the end of the 20th century a new generation of readers and critics had rediscovered him, and today his reputation is at the front rank of American authors. "Pierre" is a superbly controlled exploration of the deepest psychological motivations which underlie all human beha vior. If it is ambiguous, it is meant to be so, not in the sense of vagueness, but in the sense of many meanings. Melville, like Thomas Hardy is a master at depicting country life. And the conflicts in the novel are very much tied to country versus city living. The novel is Freudian, in its questing after the deepest reasons for human behaviors. Like most of us at some point in life, Pierre sees the father he had idolized as human and capable of error. His own values are put into question by the receipt of a note from his long-lost sister. Melville points out that we all walk "on a razor's edge of security.....that what we take to be our strongest tower of delight, only stands at the caprice of the minutest event-the fallling of a leaf, the hearing of a voice, or the receipt of one little bit of paper scratched over with a few small characters by a sharpened feather." Melville does not spare Pierre from disillusion but continues to open him up0 with an "electrical insight" into the character of his mother. He sees how she has been molded by the culture and how her love for him is not unconditional, but based upon his outward beauty and docile behavior. Melville deals with nature versus nurture as he contrasts the honesty of natural growing things with the subtlety of cultural influences. The author is at his best with descriptions like this: "The sounds seemed waltzing in the room; the sounds hung pendulous like glittering icicles from the corners of the room; and fell upon him with a ringing silveryness; and were drawn up again to the ceiling, and hung pendulous again, and dropt down upon him again with the ringing silveryness. Fireflies seemed buzzing in the sounds, summer-lightnings seemed vividly yet softly audible in the sounds. And still the wild girl played on the guitar; and her long dark shower of curls fell over it and vailed it; and still, out from the vail came the swarming sweetness, and the utter unintelligibleness, but the infinite significancies of the sounds of the guitar. The novel ends with a "Romeo and Juliet " death scene worthy of the original..."And from the fingers of Isabel dropped an empty vial-as it had been a run-out sand glass-and shivered upon the floor; and her whole form sloped sideways, and she fell upon Pierre's heart, and her long hair ran over him, and arbored him in ebon vines." The black hair of Isabel which enchanted Pierre at the beginning of the novel, covers his dead body at the end of the story. The ambiguities which began the narrative are unresolved at the end. All of us have many contradictions in our lives and most of us will not solve them. Like the genius that he was, Melville knows this. He digs deeply into the soul of Pierre trying to unravel the threads of his existence. We learn much about Pierre , and ourselves, and how we are the cause of what sometimes is our own destruction. We also learn about fate and the little that we can do to change our destinies. We learn about choices, and how the slightest incident can twist our parths toward other directions. Like Moby Dick, Pierre is Melville, calling out to us to read him. Like "Moby Dick" "Pierre" has been unread for generations. Perhaps this generation will embrace him and have the enriching experience only Melville can give.
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am 17. Januar 2010
Melvilles "Moby-Dick" war kein Publikumserfolg. Seine Verleger hätten es lieber gesehen, wenn er etwas wie "Typee" geschrieben hätte. Südsee, Menschenfresser, halbnackte Frauen, das kann man verkaufen. Sie sahen es nicht gerne, dass er jetzt "Pierre, or the Ambiguities" schrieb, noch rätselhafter als große Teile von "Moby-Dick". Im November 1851 hatte Melville an seinen Freund Hawthorne geschrieben "Leviathan is not the biggest fish - I have heard of Krakens!" Es gibt also noch etwas Größeres als "Moby-Dick", sollte "Pierre" das werden? Das, was unter diesem Namen auf den Markt kam, war nicht Melvilles originales Manuskript, das er privat als sein Kraken Manuskript bezeichnete. Seine Verleger hatten ihn immer wieder zu Revisionen gezwungen. Aber auch mit denen wurde der Roman kein Bestseller. Der international renommierte Melville Experte Hershel Parker, der auch eine zweibändige Biographie (beinahe 2.000 Seiten) geschrieben hat, hat es hier unternommen, Melvilles ursprünglichen Text zu rekonstruieren. Das ist sicherlich eine große editorische Leistung. Das Buch ist mit dreißig Illustrationen von Maurice Sendak versehen, im Stile der Märchenbuchillustrationen des deutschen Biedermeiers. Die eigentlich den sowieso zögernden Lesefluss (niemand wird "Pierre" in einem Stück lesen können) nur stören. Sendak hätte bei seinen wilden Kerlen bleiben sollen, dies hier ist nicht sein Metier.
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am 5. April 2000
It's been since grad school, in the early 80s, that I last read Melville's "Pierre", yet it's stuck to my ribs ever since. I recall a quote from Freud, that he ventured nowhere that a poet hadn't preceeded him, and I have to wonder if he had this unfortunately obscure masterpiece in mind. For Melville examines themes of psychology and sexuality as no other writer before him...excepting perhaps the Pagan mystics of old Europe. "Pierre" brilliantly illuminates the darknesses of the human psyche, those tunnels and strange rooms few of us ever explore, lest we be artists and therefore honest and courageous enough to sacrifice our egos. Melville considered "Pierre" his most important work, a suitable novel to follow "Moby Dick" (justifiably considered by many THE great American novel). Yet I find "Pierre" more moving, because more tragic, than "Moby Dick"--Ahab is obsessed and while his obsessions mixed with his intelligence make him complex, he is clearly one-dimensional in his drive. Pierre, however, is drawn by instincts which defy his conscious realization, by desires which emanate from the dark belly of humanity and therefore can't be seen. Ahab wants revenge; Pierre wants fulfillment. For a landlocked person such as myself, "Pierre" is also an easier read: no boggling display of nautical terminology to refer to on every page. Yeah, Freud was right: he owed a great deal to the poets...and while, technically, Melville was more storyteller or novelist than poet, here is a poetry there that's unmistakeable. Embrace this book, and embrace the spirit of the great man who possessed the courage to write it.
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am 16. Juni 2013
It's certainly not for everyone but I think it's great. I need it for study and I enjoyed reading it.
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am 17. Februar 2000
Pierre is perhaps the strangest novel of all time: bizarre, to say the least, but brilliant in its extravagence. At a minimum, it is one of Melville's central novels that deconstructs the entire myth of pre-war American society in its explorations of incest, patricide and psychosis. It is almost inconceivable that Melivlle really believed that it would be popular (which he did), for it shows the impossibility of writing as an American author, the impossibility of originality, and the impossibility of self-reliance. Beware: it is not for the faint of heart. It is demanding, relentlessly challenging, and very rewarding.
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am 4. Mai 1999
This, Melville's follow-up to Moby Dick, is by far the worst of his nine novels. His usual influences (Shakespeare, Virgil, Homer, the Bible) which are used in a subtle way to enhance his classic works such as Moby Dick and the Confidence Man, completely dominate this work, which is about form and style more than content. It is utterly dreary and depressing, with an oft used story line, and no redeeming value whatsoever. Perhaps Melville excised some personal ghosts in the penning of this book; if so, he should have destroyed the manuscript upon completion so as not to inflict it upon an undeserving public. Do not read this under any circumstances. Don't believe any scholar who tries to defend it's mere existence, or justify it's place "within the canon of Melville's work". If a teacher, at any level, requires that you read this, in whole or in part, contact a qualified medical authority immediately, because your teacher needs help. You will be better served reading any of his other 8 novels, even the fluff of Redburn or Israel Potter, or re-reading Moby Dick for the twentieth time, than reading one word of this.
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