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Download Pierre: or, The Ambiguities Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Pierre: or, The Ambiguities Audiobook, by Herman Melville Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Herman Melville Narrator: Robin Field Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2016 ISBN: 9781504713566
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Pierre Glendinning is the nineteen-year-old heir to the manor at Saddle Meadows in upstate New York. Engaged to the blonde Lucy Tartan in a match approved by his domineering mother, Pierre encounters the dark and mysterious Isabel Banford, who claims to be his half-sister, the illegitimate and orphaned child of his father and a European refugee. Driven by his magnetic attraction to Isabel, Pierre devises a remarkable scheme to preserve his father’s name, spare his mother’s grief, and give Isabel her proper share of the estate.

First published in 1852, Pierre was condemned by critics of the time: “a dead failure,” “this crazy rigmarole,” and “a literary mare’s nest.” Latter-day critics, however, have recognized in the story of Melville’s idealistic young hero a corrosive satire of the sentimental gothic novel and a revolutionary foray into modernist literary techniques.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “In one sense a kind of aftershock to Moby-Dick, Pierre also displays Melville’s magnificent artistic restlessness, the ruthless self-revisionism that leads him repeatedly to explode and reinvent the premises he works from. Melville had been the novelist of tropical islands, open oceans, and sailing voyages. But in Pierre he abruptly reinvents himself as a domestic novelist, proposing to write a psychodrama of family intimacy—and more particularly, to chart the emotional dependencies produced in the hyperaffectionate, inward-turning, hothouse family newly prominent in Melville’s time.”

    New York Times

  • “Herman Melville is one of American literature’s greatest figures.”

    Cambridge Guide to Literature in English

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About the Author
Author Herman MelvilleHerman Melville was born in August 1, 1819, in New York City, the son of a merchant. Only twelve when his father died bankrupt, young Herman tried work as a bank clerk, as a cabin-boy on a trip to Liverpool, and as an elementary schoolteacher, before shipping in January 1841 on the whaler Acushnet, bound for the Pacific. Deserting ship the following year in the Marquesas, he made his way to Tahiti and Honolulu, returning as ordinary seaman on the frigate United States to Boston, where he was discharged in October 1844. Books based on these adventures won him immediate success. By 1850 he was married, had acquired a farm near Pittsfield, Massachussetts (where he was the impetuous friend and neighbor of Nathaniel Hawthorne), and was hard at work on his masterpiece Moby-Dick.

Literary success soon faded; his complexity increasingly alienated readers. After a visit to the Holy Land in January 1857, he turned from writing prose fiction to poetry. In 1863, during the Civil War, he moved back to New York City, where from 1866-1885 he was a deputy inspector in the Custom House, and where, in 1891, he died. A draft of a final prose work, Billy Budd, Sailor, was left unfinished and uncollated, packed tidily away by his widow, where it remained until its rediscovery and publication in 1924.

About the Narrator

Robin Field is the AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator of numerous audiobooks, as well as an award-winning actor, singer, writer, and lyricist whose career has spanned six decades. He has starred on and off Broadway, headlined at Carnegie Hall, authored numerous musical reviews, and hosted or performed on a number of television and radio programs over the years.