#questusreviewus Pierre; or, The Ambiguities – Lindsey Senatore

Ah, never has a book title been quite so spot on. This story was, in fact, full of ambiguities…all centered around (you guessed it) Pierre!

Now, if you have read other reviews of the story, you may realize many people had a reaction like this:

OR this:

Yeah…same here.

However, I assure you this review is going to take a little bit of a different approach than most. Yes, Herman Melville…you failed to impress us and succeeded in losing us many times. However, I think there may have been a deeper point to your story that was never brought to light.

As I read the story, I more often felt as though I was reading about someone’s real life mess than a story meant to actually interest me. I mean, there was no way he actually thought through whether his story was organized or made sense…right? Could that have actually been his goal? I hope not.

Instead, I think maybe he was trying to let the readers read this story, think about their own life issues, and think, “Well at least I’m not Pierre!” So if that’s the case, I think we should thank Melville for showing us how messy life really can be! So stop crying about your own and realize, “Hey! At least I’m not married to my sister!”

Poor Pierre. Not only was he married to his sister, but he also was having family quarrels (with his mother), and having many side distractions going on… Many have complained about Melville’s inability to stay focused on the plot by going off into these side stories. I want to propose the notion that he added these side plots to, once again, display the reality of life. Life does not have one constant, organized plot. Not by a long shot. I wish everything going on in my life was relevant to one main issue or one main story. Unfortunately, we are always going to have a million different things going on in our life, not just one. In fact, I think a lot of our lives probably look a lot like this:


Do you see a scribbled mess? Good. That’s life and that’s okay! (As long as you’re not following too much in Pierre’s footsteps)

In his story, Melville portrayed issues with love, issues with family, and even a bit of an identity crisis (specifically referring to not knowing WHO he should be in relation to his newfound sister…and then deciding becoming her husband made sense….yeah…okay Pierre).

So in an interesting way, I believe Melville was using this novel not to make sense to readers or even particularly be interesting to readers, but to SHOW readers about life, messes, and misguided decisions.

Or maybe I am completely wrong. It’s up to you to read for yourself and decide!