Publisher description for Sheppard Lee : written by himself / by Robert Montgomery Bird ; introduction by Christopher Looby.
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Sheppard Lee, By Himself is a work of dark satire from the early years of the American Republic. Published as an autobiography and praised by Edgar Allan Poe, this is the story of a young idler who goes in search of buried treasure and finds instead the power to transfer his soul into other men's bodies. What follows is one_increasingly practiced body snatcher's_picaresque journey through early American pursuits of happiness, as each new form Sheppard Lee assumes disappoints him anew while making him want more and more. When Lee's metempsychosis draws him into the marriage market, the money market, and the slave market, Bird's fable of American upward mobility takes a more sinister turn. Lee learns that everything in America, even virtue and vice, are interchangeable; everything is an object and has its price._
Looking forward to Melville's The Confidence-Man and beyond that to William Burroughs’s Naked Lunch, this strange and compelling story is a penetrating critique of American life and values as well as_a crucial addition to the canon of American literature.
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