The Confidence-Man

The Confidence-Man

His Masquerade

Introduction by: Stephen Matterson
Notes by: Stephen Matterson

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140445473
  • 400 Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • Adult


Onboard the Fidèle, a steamboat floating down the Mississippi to New Orleans, a confidence man sets out to defraud his fellow passengers. In quick succession he assumes numerous guises – from a legless beggar and a worldly businessman to a collector for charitable causes and a ‘cosmopolitan’ gentleman, who simply swindles a barber out of the price of a shave. Making very little from his hoaxes, the pleasure of trickery seems an end in itself for this slippery conman. Is he the Devil? Is his chicanery merely intended to expose the mercenary concerns of those around him? Set on April Fool’s Day, The Confidence-Man (1857) is an engaging comedy of masquerades, digressions and shifting identity, and a devastating satire on the American dream.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


“The great transcendental satire.” —Carl Van Vechten
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