Pierre Review

Pierre was a very intricately written book with several extremely perplexing elements, as well as many interesting allusions to other stories, which are slightly difficult to stomach in the modern age.  Many of these references went over my head as a modern reader, however I can see how this was viewed as interesting and immaculate writing in earlier eras.  Now, however the bumbling style of Melville does portray an interesting take on mental illness, as well as an intriguing challenge to social norms, however I feel that the manner in which he carried this out makes the book incredibly difficult to read with a severe lack of transitional skills, such as when Melville addresses the audience directly in just about every chapter.  This may be intentional, however, that does not excuse the incredible difficulty of deciphering this novel.  A large problem with the novel was that Pierre’s slip into insanity coincided with Melville’s writing becoming increasingly vague, as well as going into many lengthy tangents which do not serve any significant purpose, and are later contradicted in the book.  One such instance are Pierre’s ravings about Lucy’s beauty, whom he describes as *SPOILER ALERT* later leaves for his supposed half-sister.  I believe the book could have been much better and more readable if the narration would have been more concise, and acted as an anchor to reality.  Having a way to realize whether what was going on was supposed to be real, symbolic, or in Pierre’s head would have been very helpful when reading this book, especially if it was read personally.  Melville’s writing style seemed extremely clustered and scattered, and more like a rough draft, or sketched out plot than an actual published novel.

I did personally enjoy reading this novel, as I was discussing it with a class and it was enlightening to hear everyone’s takes on the narratives portrayed in the story, including my hilarious, kind, amazing, smart, and overall wonderful professor, Dr. Sarah Boyd.  However for anyone wanting to undertake this voyage alone, I would not recommend this book.  If I was to give it a rating, I would give it 5/10 stars for personal reading, but an 8/10 for reading in a class or collective book reading club.