This essay approaches Melville's intertextual dealings in The Confidence-Man as a nonlinear and veering practice in which hermeneutics turns away from its telos. Rather than tracing the literary filiations of the novel, I explore the ghostliness—and often anamorphic character—of literary allusions as well as the multiple trajectories involved in this transformative process. Intertextuality manifests itself as a spectral force and heterogeneous realm of experience that fuels the reader's interpretive activity. This space of critical uncertainty opens up the possibility for various allusions to be entangled and to haunt each other, one potential reference morphing into another one, should one look at the text from a slightly different angle. Intertextuality in The Confidence-Man also disrupts the linearity of reading as it invites readers to veer back to earlier chapters of the novel or to reassess canonical texts in light of their Melvillean avatars. Ultimately, it seems that veering is a critical vantage point that avoids the binary opposition between symptomatic reading and surface reading, the suspicion that infuses the whole narrative attesting to its agency and unpredictability.


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pp. 53-69
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