Sunday, April 8, 2018

A passage from an email from Professor Mark Niemeyer yesterday--the Norton THE CONFIDENCE-MAN Takes France by storm, Sort of

Just wanted to tell you that, incredibly, the French Ministry of Education has put The Confidence-Man on the official program for the highly competitive agrégation examination for English for 2019 & 2020 (see the beginning of the attached official program) (students who take the exam have to have a Master’s degree already completed, & if they pass the exam they get a tenured job at the top of the heap in a French lycée). I had nothing to do with this & don’t know who made the decision.

I had to wait to pass this on until everyone at Norton knew it was officially announced.
This means that THE CONFIDENCE-MAN will be studied (hard) in France by a couple of thousand of people who already have the equivalents of our Master's degrees. We won't get rich from this (the real Norton money is in the big anthologies) but we will be used as never before. That is marvelous, as far as I am concerned. I put into this NCE many pages about Melville and Unitarianism that I had been brooding about for 20 years. One of the boxes I packed up was largely devoted to Orville Dewey, whom I discovered gave Judge Shaw's funeral address. Now, how that happened was interesting from a biographer's standpoint: I said to myself one day, Shaw's death did not go unnoticed in Boston, so I went to the Boston Public Library and found that despite one of the worst snow storms in the decade it was very big news. No one had looked. Anyhow, I had already connected portions of THE CONFIDENCE-MAN to what Melville (and Greeley) saw as Unitarian hardness of heart, and put in a section which as far as I know has been ignored in the USA. Maybe it will be noticed in France! Maybe people writing on Melville just don't realize that Norton Critical Editions sometimes contain previously unknown documents of high relevance!

This is really delightful--a total surprise.

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