""Sheppard Lee" is an antebellum novel like no other: a psychological picaresque in which the narrator survives the death of his body only to possess a succession of corpses as a spirit. Moving up and down the social and economic ladder in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Virginia, "Sheppard Lee" embodies, among other identities, a gouty brewer, a miserly moneylender, and a slave. Equal parts comedy of manners, satire of sentimentality, and critique of antebellum political culture, "Sheppard Lee" also offers a vivid portrait of early American life."-- Justine Murison, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign "An unjustly forgotten masterpiece, "Sheppard Lee" inspired Poe's tales of metempsychosis, 'The Gold Bug, ' and the juiciest parts of Melville's "Israel Potter." It also gave Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom his name. This novel of lost bodies and wandering spirits, with slavery's transformations of persons into things as background, introduces that 'other' American Renaissance--one of surreal disguises and hidden taints--which depended not on fiction but on history for its most gothic plots."-- Colin Dayan, Vanderbilt University "Like "Philothea," this novel is an original in American Belles Lettres at least; and these deviations, however indecisive, from the more beaten paths of imitation, look well for our future literary prospects...We must regard Sheppard Lee, upon the whole, as a very clever..."jeu d'esprit."" --Edgar Allen Poe, "Southern Literary Messenger" "There is a fund of amusement in it, displaying an intimate acquaintance with the lights and shades of human character." --"The New Yorker" "Of all the native productions of the season, commend us to Sheppard Lee.".."a delicious bundle of all sorts of clever intellectual wares." --"New York Monthly Magazine" "This is one of the most original and ingenious works of fiction that has been produced in the United States. As a mere novel, it is exceedingly entertaininVom Verlag:
Robert Montgomery Bird's Sheppard Lee is a scathingly humorous and utterly original novel out of Andrew Jackson's America, the story of an incorrigible loafer who inadvertently discovers the power to project his soul into dying men's bodies and to take over their lives. So gifted, Sheppard Lee sets off in pursuit of happiness, only to find himself thwarted at every turn. In growing desperation he shifts from body to body, now a rich man and now poor man, now a madman and now a slave, a bewildered spirit trapped in the dark maze of American identity.
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