Initially dismissed as "a dead failure" and "a bad book," and declined by Melville's British publisher, Pierre, or The Ambiguities has since struck critics as modern in its psychological probings and literary technique--fit, as Carl Van Vechten said in 1922, to be ranked with The Golden Bowl, Women in Love, and Ulysses. None of Melville's other "secondary" works has so regularly been acknowledged by its most thorough critics as a work of genuine grandeur, however flawed.
This scholarly edition aims to present a text as close to the author's intention as the surviving evidence permits. Based on collations of the two issues and the two impressions of the single edition publishing in Melville's lifetime, it incorporates necessary emendations made by the series editors. This text of Pierre is an Approved Text of the Center for Editions of American Authors (Modern Language Association of America).