"Ambiguities indeed! One long brain-muddling, soulbewildering ambiguity (to borrow Mr. Melville's style), like Melchisedeck without beginning or end - a labyrinth without a clue - an Irish bog without so much as a Jack o' th'-lantern to guide the wanderer's footsteps - the dream of a distempered stomach, disordered by a hasty supper on half-cooked pork chops." So judged the New York Herald when Pierre was first published in 1852, with most contemporary reviewers joining in the general condemnation: "a dead failure," "this crazy rigmarole," and "a literary mare's nest." Latter-day critics have recognized in the story of Melville's idealistic young hero a corrosive satire of the sentimental-Gothic novel, and a revolutionary foray into modernist literary techniques. As William Spengemann writes in his introduction to this edition, "For anyone who, being aware of the culture of modernity, is curious about its origins, Pierre ranks with Coleridge's 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner,' Carlyle's Sartor Resartus, Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, and the poems of Emily Dickinson as one of the privileged places where the dead past can be seen giving way inexorably to the living present."