“In this exhaustive study, Cook examines an impressive array of contextual material. Eschewing theory and jargon, Cook offers straightforward, persuasive, and impressively informed readings of characters and scenes as satires of political, religious, social, literary, and familial issues and events….Cook’s study is invaluable as a guide to a complex and elusive novel….the book will be immensely valuable to Melville scholars and students of 19th-century America because it clearly summarizes all relevant historical and biographical material. All subsequent commentary on The Confidence-Man will have to consider Cook’s work.”

–Choice Reviews

Satirical Apocalypse


This valuable new addition to Melville studies offers a ground-breaking interpretation of Melville’s last published novel, one of the most complex texts in American literature and a work that has long been noted for the divergent critical views it has elicited. Reading the novel as a generic hybrid of narrative satire and apocalyptic vision, Cook situates the novel in its implicit theological, historical, and biographical contexts: he examines the novel’s relation to Melville’s heterodox ideas of the deity, to the increasingly commercialized cultural milieu of antebellum America, and to Melville’s own life and literary career. Uncovering a wealth of new data on the novel’s satirical applications, including its covert use of Melville’s friends and family for character models, Cook offers a compelling reading of The Confidence-Man – one that is sure to influence our future conception of its creator.


Buy Satirical Apocalypse


Satirical Apocalypse by Jonathan A Cook

Satirical Apocalypse: An Anatomy of Melville’s “The Confidence-Man” by Jonathan A Cook


Published by: Praeger
Date Published: April 30, 1996
ISBN: 0313294046
Available in: Ebook, Paperback and Hardcover