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1. Bartleby, the Scrivener A Story
2. Israel Potter
3. Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the
4. Great Short Works of Herman Melville
5. Herman Melville : Pierre, Israel
6. Typee, a romance of the South
7. Herman Melville : Typee, Omoo,
8. Melville's Short Novels (Norton
9. Herman Melville : Redburn, White-Jacket,
10. The Cambridge Companion to Herman
11. Moby Dick, or, The Whale - Original
12. A Historical Guide to Herman Melville
13. The Confidence-Man (Oxford World's
14. Billy Budd, Sailor and Selected
15. Melville: His World and Work
16. Complete Shorter Fiction (Everyman's
17. Three American Poets (Penguin
18. Shorter Novels Of Melville
19. Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures
20. Omoo

1. Bartleby, the Scrivener A Story of Wall-Street
by Herman Melville
Kindle Edition: Pages (2009-10-04)
list price: US$1.99
Asin: B002RKRDOM
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars odd & quirky
I love short stories. This one kept my attention almost until the end. The end was odd and deflating.

I read lots of short stories, and the most interesting ones I will re-read to my husband when we have time together. This one will not be re-read. It's interesting, but for me not worth reading twice. I loved the first three-fourths of the story though. Detailed and funny.

One of my favorite short stories is "The Yellow Wallpaper" which is also free here on amazon kindle. I greatly recommend it over this one. But if you've got some time on your hands, and ready for fun read with an apathetic ending, read on!

5-0 out of 5 stars Complete text of Melville's humorous and moving novella on humanity
This review is for the free Kindle edition of this novella.The novella is available for purchase in several book formats, some of which contain excellent critical essays on this important American author and his work.This Kindle edition contains only the text of the novella, but it is free and that's great.

"Bartleby the Scrivener" is a very accessible short novella by the author of "Moby Dick."It tells the story of a strange young man named Bartleby who shows up one morning at a New York law firm and is employed as a copyist (scrivener.)In those days (mid-nineteenth century), legal work was horrendously tedious for the clerks since huge briefs and depositions had to be copied by hand by men who did nothing all day but write a clear hand (and try not to leave ink blots on the paper,) and then check their work by reading it aloud back to each other.

This is one of my favorite novellas (really a long short story).Wittily narrated by the harassed lawyer who owns the law firm, it describes the characters of those copyists who are employed there, and tells of the strange Bartleby who just decides to stop doing any work one day, telling his exasperated employer that he "prefers not to."

The story is a wonderful mixture of high comedy, pathos and fascinating commentary on the human condition.I re-read it at least once a year, and I always enjoy it and get something fresh from Melville's wise insights and his wonderful wit.

Highly recommended. ... Read more

2. Israel Potter
by Herman Melville
Paperback: 152 Pages (2010-07-12)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$9.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B003YKG6HO
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Israel Potter is presented here in a high quality paperback edition. This popular classic work by Herman Melville is in the English language. If you enjoy the works of Herman Melville then we highly recommend this publication for your book collection. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Melville From the Hip
This edition of Melville's ISRAEL POTTER is one of the most accurate will will have in terms of text and also a good introduction to the lighthearted side of Herman Melville.His satirical portraits of Great Americans and their various hypocrises are central to the book, as the battle action of John Paul Jones is to adventure.

For those interested in a more modern interpretation of the Israel Potter legend, see GONE OVER by David Chacko and Alexander Kulcsar--one of the best books of 2009.

3-0 out of 5 stars A charming (if over-the-top) spoof of Revolutionary heroics
After the financial failure of "Moby-Dick" and the social scandal of "Pierre," Melville settled down to write a book that would please the public, his publisher, and (most important at this point in his life) his bank account. He promised George Putnam (his publisher) both "nothing of any sort to shock the fastidious" and "nothing weighty." In short, he wrote an adventure story.

But not just any adventure story. Melville drew on a little-known autobiography published 30 years earlier and called the "Life and Remarkable Adventures of Israel R. Potter," which recounted the extraordinary career of a veteran of the Battle of Bunker Hill who delivered secret wartime letters to Benjamin Franklin, who found himself stranded in Europe, and who ended up a pauper in London. (The original Northwestern-Newberry edition reprints a facsimile copy of this source, keyed to passages in Melville's text. More remarkably, this edition notes the recent discovery of an unrelated text by a British author who included a brief account of Potter's days as a nomadic street-trader in London, along with a portrait of the man himself.)

Yet Melville's book is not merely a biographical novel. Instead, he greatly embellishes Potter's account, incorporating a farcical portrait of Franklin and adding equally comic accounts of John Paul Jones, King George, Ethan Allen, and several other historical figures whom Potter never actually met. In Melville's hands, Franklin becomes a miserly, philandering "tanned Machiavelli in tents" and "not less a lady's man, than a man's man, a wise man, and an old man"; Allen is transformed into a larger-than-life Paul Bunyan figure; King George is a kindly dolt; and Jones turns into a tattooed, flirtatious, vainglorious rake. And poor Israel Potter himself is alternately drafted, imprisoned, released, and press-ganged.

The result is not only Melville's most accessible work but also an over-the-top spoof of the heroic amateurs running the Revolution and (more subtly) an acidic indictment of the abandonment of the early American dream. While it lacks the depth or the "weight" of his other late works, "Israel Potter" makes up for its shortcomings with charm and mirth.

4-0 out of 5 stars The least known and most humorous of Melville's works.
This book is at the same time the least and the most "Melvillian" of all Melville's corpus.Melville wrote in Moby-Dick that "two thirds of the world revolve in darkness."This idea certaily holds true for most of Melville's works, but not Israel Potter.In this uncharacteristically light-hearted and crisply written rewriting of American history, Melville gives an early literary version of Woody Allen's film Zelig.The character Israel Potter is that same sort of insignificant historical non-entity who just happens to get caught up in incredibly significant historical moments.In his various wanderings Israel meets and becomes politically involved with a trio of the most important American patriots--Ben Franklin, John Paul Jones, and Ethan Allen.It is through these encounters that Melville subtlely (and sometimes not so subtlely) realizes his critical agenda and those darker themes that dominate so much of his other work begin to show themselves.In his portrayal of Franklin, Melville takes a bash at what he sees as the exemplar of American "genius"--the same American genius that ignored and misunderstood his most significant works and forced him into obscurity and poverty in his lifetime.Melville sees Franklin as representative of all that is wrong with the American character--he is parsimonious, small-minded, hard-headed, and morally hypocritical.In the other two historical figures, John Paul Jones and Ethan Allen, Melville finds redemption.In them he sees represented more of that European idea of genius, the manly half-savage/half-civilized genius of Thomas Carlyle.Like Queequeg in Moby-Dick who is described as "George Washington canabalistically rendered," Jones and Allen are wildmen in a civilized society, raging against the world as they utter their outrageous and at times incomprehensible truth.A fun yet undenialbly thought-provoking read.Enjoy ... Read more

3. Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War
by Herman Melville
Paperback: 110 Pages (2010-03-07)
list price: US$13.42 -- used & new: US$12.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1443202800
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The book has no illustrations or index. Purchasers are entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Subjects: Reconstruction; United States; Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877); History / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877); ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars America's Greatest Civil War Poet
Reviewers in 1866 were mostly unimpressed with Melville's poetry because it frequently lacks metrical polish and rejects established forms.They were also put off by his pessimism.

Although not every poem here is a masterpiece, they are consistently interesting because of Melville's reading of the events he describes as symbolic and portentous.Compared to items like "The March into Virginia" and "The College Colonel," Whitman's Civil War effusions come off looking rather vapid.

5-0 out of 5 stars Herman Melville's Civil War Poetry
Melville's "Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War" (1867) intersects two of my great interests: the Civil War and American literature.This collection of poetry has never been well-known and critical opinion about it has always been varied and mostly lukewarm.But I have returned to it many times for its meditiative quality, for Melville's varied and conflicted insights about the Civil War, and for the tortuous quality of its poetry.This collection includes the full text of Melville's poems, including his notes to the poems and the prose essay, titled "Supplement", with which the book concludes.I find the book invaluable and eloquent in understanding the Civil War, contemporary reactions to it, and Melville himself.

In his short introduction, Melville tells the reader that the poems were almost entirely composed following the conclusion of the War.They were composed at different times and with no thought of unity in the collection.Thus they are not an epic or informed by a single theme (although the unfinished dome of the Capitol runst through them as a metaphor) but rather present a series of separate, disjointed thoughts on the war. Most of the descriptions in the book derive from journalistic reports, although Melville had more first-hand experience with the Civil War than is sometimes realized. The major part of the collection, "Battle-Pieces" begins with John Brown's raid and ends with a poem title "America" in which Melville ponders the changes the Civil War had already wrought, and would bring about in the future in the United States.

As a student of the Civil War, I find it valuable to read this book for Melville's depictions of conflicts, including Fort Donelson, Shiloh, the clash between the Monitor and the Virginia, Stones River, Antietam, Vicksburg, the Wilderness, Appomatox, and much else. He gives some details of the battles while reflecting on the courage of the soldiers, the terrible carnage of the War, the scourge of slavery that brought it about, and the uncertain and ambiguous future of the United States upon the War's conclusion.Melville realized that the War did not lead to clear conclusions or to false optimism.His poetry reflects the difficulty of a complex mind thinking about a terrible war.For this reason, the book has seemed pallid to some readers.But its lack of force is due to the depth of the struggle in Melville's mind to understand the conflict.

The book is written in verse with meters and rhymes that frequently are awkward.Here again, some readers take this as a sign that poetry was not a congenial form to a Melville burned-out from the effort of writing his novels.But for much of the verse, the awkwardness of the poetry reflects the difficulty of the War as Melville works to understand the conflict and to present differing perspectives.Some of the selections, including "The Portent", "Shiloh","Rebel Colorbearers at Shiloh", the two poems about Stonewall Jackson,"Formerly a Slave", "On the Slain Collegians", and "America" seem to me to work as poetry.Other individual poems are, perhaps, more valuable for what they try to say than for Melville's poetical skills in saying it.On the whole, I think the quality of these jagged works is high. When read with Mellville's notes, they have a quality of trying to communicate directly with the reader.

Most of the successful poems in this collection are short, but I found some of the longer ones, such as "Donelson," "The Amries of the Wilderness" and "Lee in the Capitol" cast important light upon their subjects.It is interesting that in much of the poetry and in the "Supplement" with which the book concludes, Melville took a reconciliatisnt view of the conflict and its aftermath.Brave committed Americans fought on both sides, Melville tells the reader, although one side had right with it, and he urged Americans and their leaders to put aside their differences and work towards reuniting the Nation.This view has come under deserved scrutiny in recent years, as many have questioned whether it did justice to the needs of freed African Americans.But it is valuable to be reminded of how contemporaries saw the issue, as reflected in the words of some highly complex and thoughtful minds.

Although Melville's Civil War poetry will never win widespread critical or popular appeal, I have gained a great deal from repeated readings of this work.Students of the Civil War and of American literature can only benefit from knowing and reflecting upon it.

Robin Friedman

2-0 out of 5 stars Interesting But Not Memorable
These days it seems like only English professors and their students are reading Melville's poetry. MOBY DICK, and other works undoubtedly proved that he was a master of prose, but the critics weren't so convinced about his poetry, instead giving it lukewarm reviews at best, and calling it amateurish. For this reason we find Melville's prose in the literary canon while his poetry remains on the periphery of obscurity and limbo.

The poems are dense and full of Civil War references, so it would behoove the reader to brush up on his history. Likewise, the reader will quickly realize why Melville's poetry didn't receive the critics' acclaim. They are melodramatic, with an overemphasis on composing within the traditional (some would say archaic) rules of poetry: rhythm, rhyme scheme, etc., which does not translate well into our time and makes it not the most entertaining style to read...

These are interesting poems, but seem to have more historic value (U.S. history and the history/development American poetry) than poetic.

My personal favorites include: "The Stone Fleet," where Melville experiences romance for the whaling ships sailing out of harbor and which, consequently, he never sailed on; and, "The House Top," from where he overlooks the New York enlistment riots, where he implies that those who don't fight for our country aren't for God.
--ross saciuk

5-0 out of 5 stars What The Library Journal Does Not Know.
I am one of the editors of the Prometheus Books edition of Melville's superb book on the Civil War. Alas, the Library Journal review, posted for the volume, is pathetic: two sentences, only one on Melville's poems, and that one half wrong, for Melville had NO direct experience of actual fighting in the war. What is more, there is no reference to the extensive supplementary material in our volume--including fine essays by Helen Vendler and Rosanna Warren. Caveat emptor regarding any such "review" of the "critics."

5-0 out of 5 stars Poetic Prose, but not Prosaic Verse
It has been said of Herman Melville that his prose is poetic, but his poetry is not. In his time, in fact, his poetry was little-read and quite unpopular. Of course, _Moby Dick_ received only a lukewarm reception backthen. Now, his poetry deserves a reassessment.

First, _Battle-Pieces_should be credited as artistic, sometimes beautiful, poetry. Some of thepoems are somewhat doggeral, and would be much improved by a few lessforced rhymes. Others, however, are truly moving.

In these latter poems,Melville conveys the horrors of the war--and occasionally the humanity thatshone through, uniting the brothers across the battlefield. Few men orwomen of the time had the experience (he participated in a chase of aSouthern soldier) and writing ability to show us this time so effectively.As a result, he produced what, in my opinion, is a book at least as good ashis most well-known novel.

At the end of the book he includes an essay onReconstruction, in which he pleads for an easy reconciliation with theconquered South, more along the lines with Lincoln and Johnson's plans thanthe Radicals'. While somewhat disappointing (we'd like the man who createdQueeQueg to support Southern blacks' rights a little more), the essay iswell-written, and allows us to read the nonfictional beliefs of a man weusually associate with fiction--just as the poems let us read the verse ofa writer of prose. ... Read more

4. Great Short Works of Herman Melville (Perennial Classics)
by Herman Melville
Paperback: 512 Pages (2004-03)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$6.96
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Asin: 0060586540
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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  ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Melville's quarrel with God.
Now that Moby Dick is apparently in one of its periodical down turns, being mostly read by only die hard American lit majors, it is through his short fiction that Melville retains his position in American letters.Although Moby Dick is his most important work (and one of the most important works in American fiction) his shorter efforts do not suffer in comparison.Of the four selections in this volume, "Bartleby", "Benito Cereno" and "Billy Budd" are all first rate and should be put on the same shelf as Moby Dick; only "The Encantadas", a strange combination of travel guide, adventure story and philosophical musings, pales in comparison with the other three.But even this story holds the reader's attention as Melville weaves Biblical, Shakespearean and Manichean elements to give a mid-nineteenth century description of the Galapagos Islands.

"Bartleby" is arguably Melville's finest short work.Within its forty odd pages the author masterfully draws the portrait of a man beaten down by society and the despotic business practices of former employers.Bartleby refuses to fight his predicament and instead retreats into himself and ignors his current employer's demands."I would prefer not" is his stock reply.The character of Bartleby is seen as one of the first examples of the alienated hero in literature, a character type that would be more fully considered by Camus, Sartre, Kafka and others."Benito Cereno", a story of a ship taken over by a group of slaves, combines an increasingly suspenseful plotline with some sociological explorations of slavery.Although written from a mid-nineteenth century point of view and with enough racist statements to make even a KKK member blush, Melville makes it clear that slavery is an institution that contaminates both slave and master alike.The character of Benito Cereno, the ship's captain, in many ways resembles that of Bartleby: both have essentially resigned themselves to their fate and recognize the futility of offering resistance to the machinations of a fickle universe.

Melville continues his dark musings on the nature of good, evil, alienation and a seemingly aloof diety in his novella, "Billy Budd, Foretopman."Although not as monumental as Moby Dick, this work poses many of the same questions and deals with the same set of philosophical concepts as the larger novel.Rarely in literature has the ideas of innocence, evil and justice been so concisely considered and personified: Billy, the innocent Adam; the devilish Claggard; and Vere, the deistic captain who must look helplessly on as an innocent man is condemned to death, bound by the laws of the Navy which he serves.

In addition, all of the short works in this volume bear some relation to one another.Each of its protagonists shares a certain resignation in face of a fate over which they have no control; each story is full of ironies which requires the reader to read carefully and pay particular attention to Melville's symbols and themes; each story is open to a myriad of interpretations; and each story is written by a man, although in decline with his contemporary critics and reading public, was in his creative prime.

5-0 out of 5 stars "I'd prefer not to..."
This book includes one ofmy favorite works by Melville (or anyone, for that matter), "Bartleby The Scrivener". It tells thestory of the document copier (or scrivener) Bartleby asnarratedby his increasingly perplexed, unnamed employer. Unlike Mobey Dick which is so symbolic and philosophical, I gave up on page 13 or so, this story is strangely accessible and contemporary.The alienation that Bartleby feels for his job, his fellow employees, and the narrator is, at once, sad and humorous. Today, when it seemsa job can easily become interchangeable with who we are, the fact that Bartleby is, at first, reluctant to do what's asked of him and later would "prefer not to" do anything at all is a bitter, if accurate, portrayal of the kind of ever-threatening psychosis that nibblesaround the edges of the world of work from time to time, whatever it is we do to make a living.What's the word? Yeah; there's an existential quality to this tale that fits just assecurely in 2007, asit does in the mid-19th century, the story'sactual setting. Like Bartleby, I sometimes find myself fading away before the tasks I am asked to perform on the job; "I would prefer not to..." comes to mind pretty often, but, of course, I push on because at the time it all seems tomean something.And it does....Doesn't it? Melville was on to something.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ah Bartelby!
This is worth buying if only for the masterpiece that is Bartelby the Scrivener. One of the all time great short stories, it tells the story, narrated by an employer in a Wall Street Law office who finds a peculiar scrivener called Bartelby in his employ.

Bartelby is initially a quiet and efficient copyist, but when asked to undertake extra work, he deflects it with the simple rejoinder 'I would prefer not to.' He repeats this mantra, over and over, calmly and without malice. 'You will not?' thunders his employer in frustration, 'I prefer not,' says Bartelby. And with that simple 'I prefer not', Bartelby strikes a blow on behalf of all the inconspicuous millions who find themselves wasting their lives, their creative human potential, in drab, workaday office jobs, counting down the months of their lives staring at a computer screen, the sterile hum of life passing them by. All the tedium of office life is in Bartelby - anyone who has worked in such an environment will recognise the compulsive snacking, the drab natureless view out the window, the modes and systems of the company affecting the consciousness and behaviour patterns of the staff. Bartelby, simply and effectively, questions all of this with his quiet actions, heading off in another direction from the common herd, unpicking the knot at the end of the string that binds all corporate paperwork together. Hurrah for Bartelby, whose quiet, tragic existence unravells the whole rope, and hurrah for his legacy - for without Bartelby there would be no Camus, there would be no 'Something Happened' by Joseph Heller, no 'And Then we Came to the End' by Joshua Ferris, the masterful debut office novel published this year.

To read Bartelby, to devote a valuable hour of your life to Melville's pioneering existentialist story, is to momentarily glimpse a chink in the darkness, a sense of what might and could be, instead of the living death that a great many people trudge through, like the dead in T.S. Eliot's poem 'The Wasteland', trudging over London Bridge on their way to work.

5-0 out of 5 stars as always...
a great collection! when it comes to Melville, i usually prefer annotated editions, but, this particular version does not include either 'The Confidence Man' or 'Moby Dick', thus, i believe i will be just fine. If you've already read 'Typee', 'Pierre', or either of the two above mentioned titles, then this collection may just be for you. It's worth it alone just for 'Billy Budd'. My one complaint? The cover artwork depicts ol' Herms to be a distant relative of Leonardo da Vinci, and while ol' Herms was a genius (although not on Leonardo's level), i think Perennial could have offered a better looking picture than the one they chose to use... talk about your old man and the sea...

5-0 out of 5 stars truth comes in with darkness
This is the beginning of American literature. And these short works I think tell the tale more clearly than that confusing (though still great) big book Moby Dick.Melville wrote from an outsiders perspective and he was an outsider as perhaps all Americans were because we did not yet have an identity as a people. Melville explores our institutions of justice and our ability to comprehend life through them in Billy Budd in the way a foreigner would examine justice and understanding in a land whose logic he was unfamiliar with. He seems to ask "how will our sense of justice be different than France's or England's and therby make us a different nation than theirs?" or even more simply "Is real understanding(of ourselves, or others) ever possible?" Melville is very much the anti-idealist in a work like The Piazza in which one valley dweller imagines existence on the upper slopes to be grander than his own only to travel there one day and be made aware of the opposite. So there is no dreaming colonist in Melville, in him we have a measured study of ourselves as we were in his day, and perhaps still are, a dreaming people,a restless people with only the vaguest notions of what life and its true nature is. The strangest story in this collection is Benito Cereno which is perhaps the work which most defines a democratic nation's uneasy alliance of peoples and points of view. In that work there is no one defining perspective, only differing views of one event that remains disturbingly unclear as all of Melville's worlds are. In Melville we have an author defining what we are or perhaps more importantly what our problems will be in the future. Interesting short works full of that rare kind of insight that does not seem to be trapped in its time but somehow seems to have seen what is to come. There is the idea that a new nation has of itself and a confidence that in the works of Melville is challenged. The mystery in these works is the mystery at the heart of existence and life remains inscrutable even here in this new land with its new ways. In Moby Dick the innocent Ishmael is the only one spared, in Billy Budd(Melville's last tale) the innocent is the one sacrificed. Melville's vision is not a comfortable one. The strange Bartelby,the Scrivener is a tale where personality is consumed by an impersonal system. The story strikes an odd alienated tone which will later be taken up by Kafka and Pynchon and countless others. ... Read more

5. Herman Melville : Pierre, Israel Potter, The Piazza Tales, The Confidence-Man, Tales, Billy Budd (Library of America)
by Herman Melville
Hardcover: 1478 Pages (1985-04-01)
list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$24.03
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0940450240
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Herman Melville's dark and brilliant late works contain some of his most powerful writing. After "Moby-Dick" he turned from the high seas to record his keen, bleak vision of life at home in America. "Pierre," "Israel Potter," and "The Confidence-Man," satirical dissections of moral breakdown and social hypocrisy, anticipate modernist fiction with their black humor and formal experimentation. With them here are "The Piazza Tales"--including "Bartelby the Scrivener," "The Encantadas," and "Benito Cereno"--and the haunting, posthumously published masterpiece, "Billy Budd, Sailor." Rounding out this third volume of Melville's complete prose in the Library of America are many pieces rarely collected, including magazine stories, comic sketches, and reviews of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Francis Parkman, and James Fenimore Cooper. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Worth the effort.
Nothing I can write can either do justice to this collection or convince you to read it.Those goals are simply out of my persuasive power.

All I can say is that Melville is one of those rare writers who works in the aggregate.He does not hit the nostalgia button like Twain, or compose a jaw-dropping sentence every other paragraph like Dickens.However, after reading much of Melville, a quality of reflection and thought is induced that is equally as valuable, if not superior, to some of his more immediately gratifying contemporaries.

The LA Times stated that this collection "Should find a place on every civilized person's bookshelf."They were spot on.

Combining this collection with Moby-Dick will make you more well-read, it will give you a greater depth to your literary knowledge, but more importantly, it will make you a better human being.And that is worth more than any pretty turn of phrase.

5-0 out of 5 stars It ain't all Moby Dick
If you think that you can't read classic American Literature because it's all so big and intimidating (i.e., Moby Dick) think again.Some of the short stories in this collection of Melville's "other" work are incredibly well-written insights into human nature. (As is Moby Dick, but I digress).

Billy Budd's encounter with "justice," Bartleby's statement that he would "prefer not", Benito Cerino's exploration of slavery-- these tales are not to be missed.You should read this book as a starter, then move on to the BIG OLD white whale.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Lonesome Latter Years
Darkly humorous, cynical, horrific and melancholy, Melville's later works are the capstone to the author's deepening discontent with his America.The vision here can be frustrating: Melville conjures up the most painful, soul-searching mysteries, and then refuses to knot them up with tidy solutions.Instead, Melville deepens the moral ambiguity that seeped through the skin of the transitional Moby Dick in full-length works like Pierre and Billy Budd, Sailor.And the shorter works--among them The Piazza Tales, Benito Cereno, and Bartleby the Scrivener--are imbued with such a longing for any kind of graspable meaning, that their readers, like their characters, find themselves in a ponderous state of shock.The human condition, Melville seems to say, is one of isolation, cast adrift, searching alone for a truth that is, and always will be, inscrutable. ... Read more

6. Typee, a romance of the South Seas
by Herman Melville, Sterling Andrus Leonard
 Paperback: 366 Pages (2010-09-10)
list price: US$32.75 -- used & new: US$25.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1172303622
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923.This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process.We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Melville and Covarrubias in the Heritage Edition...
Heritage's 1963 edition of Melville's Typee -- a sand-colored slipcase contains the hardcover book, bound in textured cloth with a three-color design. 24 Covarrubias color illustrations. Introduction by Raymond Weaver. Melville's Preface. 409 pp. ... Read more

7. Herman Melville : Typee, Omoo, Mardi (Library of America)
by Herman Melville
Hardcover: 1333 Pages (1982-05-06)
list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$21.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0940450003
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This first volume of The Library of America's complete prose works of Herman Melville includes three romances of the South Seas. "Typee" and "Omoo," based on the young Melville's experiences on a whaling ship, are exuberant accounts of the idyllic life among the "cannibals" in Polynesia. They remained his most popular works well into the 20th century. "Mardi" ("the world" in Polynesian) is a mixture of love story, adventure, and political allegory, set on a mythical Pacific island, that looks forward to the complexities of "Moby-Dick." Together, these three romances give early evidence of the genius and daring that make Melville the master novelist of the sea and a precursor of modernist literature. Two companion volumes--"Herman Melville: Redburn, White-Jacket, Moby-Dick" and "Herman Melville: Pierre, Israel Potter, The Piazza Tales," "The Confidence Man, Uncollected Prose, and Billy Budd" complete this edition of Melville's prose. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Herman Melville,Typee,Omno,Mardi

Excellent product,speedy delivery.
We firmly recommend this seller.

Per Sulland

4-0 out of 5 stars Praise and lament: unlucky compromise
I have said in a few other reviews that I like the LoA very much. The 3 volume Melville edition is no exception. And yet!
The normal size of the volumes is around 800 to 1000 pages. This first volume of Melville with Typee, Omoo, and Mardi, gets to nearly 1400. That is more than can be conveniently handled, and the main problem is, that space has been saved in the bio and notes sections. The LoA volumes usually include a useful summary of the writer's biography and a section of notes on the texts. The notes ideally explain text variants but also obscure names and references in the text. There are plenty of such names and references here, particulary in Mardi. The notes section of this volume is however unsatisfactory; I am sure this is due to space considerations. Would it have made sense to stretch the edition to 4 or 5 volumes and keep them handier? That would have left volume 1 with a sub-par size of less than 700 pages. Including a later shorter text would have disturbed the sequence, which would have been bad due to the contents relation of the 3 texts included now. In other words: what to do? All considered, I would vote for the shorter and handier volume, i.e. here just Typee and Omoo, with Mardi plus Redburn in volume 2, plus a much expanded note and bio section.
(I am still in the middle of Mardi, which is a marvel and a mystery, and will review it separately.)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Growth of a Seeker
Among the early products of the wonderful Library of America Series were three volumes devoted to the novels of Herman Melville.This volume consists of Melville's first three novels, Typee(1846), Omoo(1847) and Mardi (1849)

Melville's novels are based, more or less loosely, on his life at sea.The first two novels describe voyages to the Marquesas and to Tahiti.They are filled with lush descriptions of scenery, and tales of adventure.Of the two, Typee is filled with encounters with cannibals and Polynesian maidens while Omoo presents a wider canvas of characters and scenes.Both books emphasize the sexual openness and relative simplicity of Polynesian life as compared to life in the United States and both books are critical as well of attempts to Christianize the islanders.These are not unusual themes today and probably were not as radical in the 1840s as one might suppose.The stories are well told and the descriptions alluring.These books made Mellville's reputation as a young writer.

Mardi, however, is the gem of this collection.Its relationship to the earlier novels can be analogized, say, to the relationship between the young Beethoven's first symphony on the one hand and the growth of language and thought in the second and third symphonies on the other hand.Melville prefaces the book with the note that his first two books were fact-based but were received with "incredulity" while Mardi was pure romance and "might be recieved for a verity."(Little likelihood of that)

The book as in a baroque, ornate, and bravado style that Melville would bring to completion in Moby Dick.It is an allegory involving the search for Yillah, a strange, mthical maiden, through the seas of Mardi -- Polynesian for "the world".The narrator is accompanied by King Media, by the philosopher Babbalanja, the singer Yoomi, and the historian Mohi.There are many wonderfully exasperating discussions.They wander far and wide in search of Yillah and in there wandering we here many religious allegories and many depictions of the Europe and United States of Melville's own time.There are shadowy maidens, villans, long scenes in the empty wide ocean, and pages of Melvillian thought and bluster.

The book is high American romanticism and presents a religious and personal quest by the narrator that resounds of similar quests by many in our own day.For example, there is a famous unfinished novel of the religious quest called Mount Analogue by a French writer, Duhamel, which fits quite compactly into just a few chapters of Mardi.Mardi is a long, maddenlingly difficult book but worth the effort.

Americans can learn about themselves by learning about their literature and this book is a fitting place to start (or continue).For those with the patience, it is worth reading these books in order (perhaps with other reading sandwiched in between) to discover the growth of a great and troubled American writer and chronicler of the inward life, as well as of sea journeys. ... Read more

8. Melville's Short Novels (Norton Critical Editions)
by Herman Melville
Paperback: 432 Pages (2001-11)
-- used & new: US$7.92
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Asin: 0393976416
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Collected in this volume are Bartleby, the Scrivener, Benito Cereno, and Billy Budd—presented in the best texts available, those published during Melville's lifetime and corrected by the author. Each text has been carefully edited and annotated for student readers. As his writing reflects, Melville was extraordinarily well read. "Contexts" collects important sources for each novel, including writings by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Amasa Delano, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. "Criticism" includes twenty-eight essays about the novels sure to promote classroom discussion. Contributors include Leo Marx, Elizabeth Hardwick, Frederick Busch, Robert Lowell, Herschel Parker, Carolyn L. Karcher, Thomas Mann, and Hannah Arendt. A Selected Bibliography is included.

About the series: No other series of classic texts equals the caliber of the Norton Critical Editions. Each volume combines the most authoritative text available with the comprehensive pedagogical apparatus necessary to appreciate the work fully. Careful editing, first-rate translation, and thorough explanatory annotations allow each text to meet the highest literary standards while remaining accessible to students. Each edition is printed on acid-free paper and every text in the series remains in print. Norton Critical Editions are the choice for excellence in scholarship for students at more than 2,000 universities worldwide. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Volume
This book contains 3 stories: "Bartleby The Scrivener", "Benito Cereno", and "Billy Budd". About a half of the book is "contexts", which are essays about the stories and other texts that shed light on the three stories.

For the scholar, this book is probably the best edition around as far as the "Killer B's" are concerned (Bartleby, Benito, Billy Budd). It contains excellent criticism, and has a neat bibliography which any lit student or scholar will find useful.

As to the stories, well, I have mixed feelings. I absolutely love "Bartleby" and I think it's one of my favourite stories ever. If you are interested by a story which poses the problem of the uncommunicable and inherently hermetic, and of the impossible divisions between humans, that's the fone for you. Considered the ancestor of "absurd literature" by some, by a Christic parable by others, "Bartleby" is of utmost interest in either case.

"Benito Cereno" is a story that I found myself disliking quite a bit. It was as usually wordy as you'd expect Melville to be - which of itself isn't the problem - but the story feels pointless and boring. That is, until you read on, then it gets interesting, but I felt I found that out too late. Also, I readily admit not having given it my best reading time. I got confused and and bored with the style and I had a hard time "seeing" much. So I didn't like this one too much, and whether this is because I poorly read or because of the story, I don't know, and I don't want to read it a second time.

"Billy Budd" is good. I didn't like it as much as "Bartleby", but I liked it a lot more than "Benito". Another tale with an odd character and with Christic aspects. Definitely worth reading.

On the whole, I understand that some readers may find Melville boring; he usually gets that from readers of Moby-Dick, even though that novel is not boring at all (when you know how to read). However, I assume that the usual client of this Norton Critical Edition will have more than "a good time" in mind when considering to purchase it. Although, if you're not a scholar and like to know about the context of the work, then you will definitely have a good time too reading the critical material added to the stories (and more than just critical, you also get Emerson's "The Transcendentalist", which is quite a read). You will not find a better volume containing all three stories. This one has everything you could ask for: notes, additional texts to enlighten your understanding of the stories, and also you will have a joined perception of the three stories as one significant unit, which makes a lot of sense (remember the B's, the fact that each character can be said to be Christic, etc.).

The best edition for those three stories, doubtless.

5-0 out of 5 stars Three masterpieces in one
In each of these works Melville creates and probes deeply into a complex world of difficult and mysterious human relationships. This is even true in 'Bartleby' the story of the great solitary scrivener who at one point 'prefers not to' do the work he is hired for. The story of Bartleby is the great American parallel to Dostoevsky's 'Notes from the Underground' It is the man who revolts against the urban mass pressing against him to make his own statement of radical individualism and freedom.
'Billy Budd' is a different kind of martyr hero whose innocence and nobility arouse the envy and lust of the cruel Claggart, and whom even the noble Captain Vere is unable to save. 'Benito Cereno' is like Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' a trip into the lower regions of the horror- filled nature of the human soul.
In each of these great tales Humanity is tested and driven to extremes of knowing uncomfortable truths about itself, in language of great literary power and beauty.

1-0 out of 5 stars borrring
this book was extremely boring. Good story line though. Maybe Melville should have stopped after his bad review of M.D.
Billy Budd has many symbolic meanings but just never could keep my interest. It was as if Melville tried to fit in too much symbolism and did not pay enough attention to the story itself.

5-0 out of 5 stars great edition here, footnoted text and relevant criticism
This book includes both the text of Melville's short works (Bartleby, Benito Cereno, and Billy Budd)-approx 175 pages, and approx 225 pages of contexts (which are just what they sound like, historical background regarding each work, something I find invaluable when reading books written long before I was born) and literary criticism (generally interesting and almost always opened my eyes to new layers of meaning in Melville's writing.)
Invaluable for any reader of 19th century american fiction, college undergrad or grad student.

If you're not a student (I'm not) the background on Melville and his work is incredibly interesting and you will definitely come away with a new understanding of the man, his mind, his writing, and his relevance to all American Fiction. Oh yeah: and it's easy to read, to boot. ... Read more

9. Herman Melville : Redburn, White-Jacket, Moby-Dick (Library of America)
by Herman Melville, George Thomas Tanselle
Hardcover: 1436 Pages (1983-04-15)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$14.99
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Asin: 0940450097
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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"Moby-Dick," Melville's masterpiece, is one of the great epics in all of literature. Ahab's idolatrous hunt for the white whale drives the narrative at a relentless pace, while Ishmael's meditations on whales and whaling, the sublime indifference of nature, and the grimy physical details of whale-oil extraction provide a reflective counterpoint. Sometimes read as a terrifying study of monomania or as a critical inquiry into the sinister effects of reducing life to symbols, "Moby-Dick" also offers colorful and comic glimpses of life aboard a whaling ship. This second volume of Melville's complete prose in The Library of America also includes two other stories of the sea: "Redburn," which relates a young man's initiation into the sailor's life, and "White-Jacket," a semi-autobiographical account of experiences in the U.S. Navy. All three are presented in the authoritative Northwestern-Newberry texts. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Redburn and White-Jacket are well worth reading ....
.... before taking on Moby-Dick. This review is not intended to sway anybody towards getting this volume for Moby-Dick. The reputation of this novel as the greatest of American literature, and its role in any number of academic courses, will pretty much decide whether someone buys it. For the record, Moby-Dick fully lives up to its reputation as a great, sometimes difficult and rewarding book. My suggestion is that going through Redburn and White-Jacket will make reading through Moby-Dick more rewarding, and this volume makes an elegant combination of the three.

"Redburn" is a highly readable coming-of-age novel with a strong autobiographical component. The protagonists suffers repeatedly from inexperience on his trip across the Atlantic, finds crushing poverty in the port city of Liverpool and returns home rather beaten up and disillusioned. This story helped me get ready for the psychological struggles, as well as the gradually unfolding tragedy, of the major characters in Moby-Dick.

"White-Jacket" was longer and took more of a concentrated effort to get through, but is an even better preparation for Moby-Dick and is an outstanding novel in its own right. The novice onboard the merchant ship of Redburn is replaced by the quiet and pragmatic survivor White-Jacket, who serves on a U.S. Navy vessel. The ways of the Navy had been rather primitive and brutal by the standards at the time, and Melville rails against the favoritism and corporal punishment in extended passages. The cast of characters is notably larger in White-Jacket than Redburn, and appear to represent actual figures in Melville's past as a sailor (Redburn seemed far more constructed as pure fiction).

"Redburn" and "White-Jacket" are great books on their own, but in this volume they serve as complimentary lead-ins to the different dimensions of Moby-Dick. As with the other Library of America volumes I've read through, I benefited from going through the entire contents in order.

5-0 out of 5 stars Moby-Dick, as my father once said, is one of the greatest novels ever written
Melville is one of the greatest American authors ever, and Moby-Dick alone is worth the price for this book. When I read the book myself in american literature, I was amazed at the extensive detail taken into the culture of whaling, a culture that was in its twilight days; it also gave us more information about whales that some think is too much, but whatever. Even though I didn't completely understand the book (but so did everything I read in high school), I have the desire to read it again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Presages of Moby-Dick
While White-Jacket seems to have little overall relation to Melville's other works in the sense that it appears as a self-contained, highly enjoyable novel, Redburn is one of those central turning points in thisgreat writer's life that makes it extraordinarily important.Forget"adventure" or "romance." This is a novel ofpsychological destruction, a disasterous novel of "growing up"that displays the shattering of a young mind and the destruction of"young America."Any reader who loves Moby-Dick should devourRedburn again and again as one of Melville's most important works.

3-0 out of 5 stars The content was very exciting.
Complicated to absorb into your mind as you read along, due to the expert writing of this this material. I had to reread just about everything at least 5 times for it to make any sense at all.I'm in the 9th grade.Daniel Barclay-son of Paul ... Read more

10. The Cambridge Companion to Herman Melville (Cambridge Companions to Literature)
Paperback: 328 Pages (1998-05-13)
list price: US$34.99 -- used & new: US$25.95
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Asin: 052155571X
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The Cambridge Companion to Herman Melville is intended to provide a critical introduction to Melville's work.The essays have been specially commissioned for this volume, and provide a comprehensive overview of Melville's career.All of Melville's novels are discussed, as well as most of his poetry and short fiction.Written at a level both challenging and accessible, the volume provides fresh perspectives on an American author whose work continues to fascinate readers and stimulate new study. ... Read more

11. Moby Dick, or, The Whale - Original Version
by Herman Melville
Paperback: 364 Pages (2010-06-27)
list price: US$21.99 -- used & new: US$21.99
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Asin: 1450571549
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This classic story of high adventure, manic obsession and metaphysical speculation was Melville's masterpiece. This edition includes passages from Melville's correspondence with Nathaniel Hawthorne, in which the two discuss the philosophical depths of the novel's plot and imagery. ... Read more

12. A Historical Guide to Herman Melville (Historical Guides to American Authors)
by Giles Gunn
Paperback: 272 Pages (2005-06-02)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$6.36
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Asin: B002HJ3F5Y
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This collection gathers together original essays dealing with Melville's relations with his historical era, with class, with the marketplace, with ethnic otherness, and with religion. These essays are framed by a new, short biography by Robert Milder, an introduction by Giles Gunn, an illustrated chronology, and a bibliographical essay. Taken together, these pieces afford a fresh and searching set of perspectives on Melville's connections both with his own age and also with our own. This book makes the case, as does no other collection of criticism of its size, for Melville's commanding centrality to nineteenth-century American writing. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars gives depth to an understanding of Melville's works
Be aware that Gunn assumes you have read most of Melville's major works. Gunn then attempts here to put those writings in the perspective of Melville's life and the society that he was in - 19th century United States. This provides an authentic context from which his works sprang, and against which they should perhaps best be judged.

So we see here threads of major events and ideas that ran through American society, mostly before the Civil War. Some touch upon the religious passions of the times, and on slavery and the classes of the society. Gunn provides valuable depth to an understanding of Melville. ... Read more

13. The Confidence-Man (Oxford World's Classics)
by Herman Melville
Paperback: 416 Pages (2009-08-03)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$9.08
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Asin: 0199554854
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Male, female, deft, fraudulent, constantly shifting: which of the `masquerade' of passengers on the Mississippi steamboat Fidèle is `the confidence man'? The central motif of Melville's last and most `modern' novel can be seen as a symbol of American cultural history. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

1-0 out of 5 stars Not the volume the image represents
The image of the book on the web is that of the Northwestern University edition. Open the contents on the web page and you get the H. Bruce Franklin edition. The edition supplied is neither. It is a hard bound reprint without the scholarly material offered by Northwestern or Franklin. Amazon does a poor job of delineating between editions.

5-0 out of 5 stars "The Confidence Man" by Herman Melville
After Herman Melville's tales of mountainous waves, disease, apparitions, murders, suicides, cannabalism, tropical storms, tsunamis, hallucinations, lightning strikes, hangings, volcanic eruptions, starvation, giant whales and every form of terror possible on the high seas and land, "The Confidence Man" is Melville's most violent work.

It begins with an April day, the first, "April Fool's Day" on a paddle-wheeled river boat heading downstream from St. Louis, Missouri to New Orleans, Louisiana.The river is wide, 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) at certain points, but a river boat is generally thought to be a reassuring form of travel.

This is not the case, not once in the 45 chapters which follow.The concentration of psychological violence is so intense that the reader is unaware of its insidious presence which manifests itself continually in its different disguises.

In Chapter 14, in a brief aside, Melville gives the reader a kind of passepartout to his novel, when he describes the first stuffed platypus from Australia, the so-called "duck-billed beaver", which many naturalists refused to recognize as a separate species and preferred to conclude that the bill had been ably glued on.

In a letter to his friend, Nathaniel Hawthorne, in 1851, Melville writes: "Let any clergyman try to preach the Truth from its very stronghold, the pulpit, and they would ride him out of his church on his own pulpit bannister."

Obviously for many this is a totally unacceptable view of the human race.Incomprehension and
denial are natural defensive reactions.But considering that 153 years have passed since the
publication of "The Confidence Man" and considering the accumulated evidence we have at hand, this prophetic novel provides the ONLY credible conclusive appraisal of the human condition.

3-0 out of 5 stars Tough Going for the Amateur
You'll notice that the reviewers of this book have read biographies and/or scholarly criticism of the book. They infer Melville's intent in "The Confidence Man," based on what scholars have learned about him through his dealings with other literary figures and from his other writings.

I read this book without any of the benefits of a literary criticism or in the context of a course. Basically, I found this book on my shelf, and I picked it up.I majored in English in college a long time ago, and I vaguely remembered liking the Melville that I had read in the past. I can report that taking on this book without scholarly grounding is difficult.I enjoyed it anyway, and I understood a lot of the arguments that characters in the book were making and the absurdity of the situations that they postured to each other.But the greater import of those discussions and digressions was less obvious to me than to other reviewers -- or perhaps I'm more modest in what I claim to have divined from the book.

The book is choppy at first. In early chapters, different characters emerge and interact on a riverboat that's heading down the Mississippi at a time when the West was still largely unexplored. In each vignette, a "confidence man" tries to get money from an "innocent" or group of innocents. (It's not clear if some of them are the same person. A few reviewers state definitely that all the early confidence men are the devil in disguise -- but it's not important anyway whether they are the same person or different people.)In the early going, the confidence men are almost universally successful at borrowing money, selling useless medicine or stock certificates, etc. In the second half of the book, wiser and more cynical people challenge the confidence men, and the confidence men take their lack of success in stride. This slim plot outline brings forth a series of logical and illogical arguments about the need to trust people and the reasons for a lack of trust in the world -- and that's the point of the book.

If you enjoy reading philosophical arguments, then you will enjoy the book. These are short arguments, sometimes leavened with humor. Some hold up well today, and some are silly to our modern sensibilities. But the book is a nice digression from modern novel fare, despite its difficult passages.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Socratic Novel About Faith?
Here is a novel mostly composed of dialogues - hence the Socraticness of my review title - and the main subject is "confidence", or "faith". It all takes place on April 1st, on a boat. The "confidence man" is a sneaky character, as you will not spot him before a few chapters, and critics and readers alike can only guess which character he was hiding as in the beginning. I entirely missed out on him myself, as I am not used to suppose that various characters might just be the same, disguised.

This is not a typical novel, and if you're looking for a sea adventure as with "Omoo" or "Typee" or other of Melville's novels, you will not find it. It is aboard a boat indeed, but that's as far as the similarities go. The "confidence man" mostly argues with other characters on said boat, and their conversations are mighty interesting. This is no adventure novel, but more like a conversational novel, and a good one at that.

Nevertheless, it is a bit bewildering perhaps, because of its obscurity, if any, and you will probably feel like you missed out on much, as I did (feel).

A good read for sure, and good dialogues, and a very important topic: trust, confidence, faith.

5-0 out of 5 stars the Frank and Charlie show
H. Bruce Franklin's finely annotated Melville is once again available.

Perhaps not the best place to discuss the story, at least let's discuss the edition. I have always thought these footnotes have been a necessary part of this long running joke. The book seems tough and well-constructed. Not everyone's copy will be read through, but the others will be thumbed to death, almost like an airliner in static test destruction.

And what a ride! This is a story about story-telling and about story-telling techniques. One of the longest and most absurd being Wilbur/Thoreau's honking of the story of China Aster. Everyone is fighting over how to tell this tale! Himmlerian Mark Winsome lays down the Party Line, Wilbur trying to strain off the tannins. Frank Goodman tries to redeem it. Melville attempts to hide behind it. I find myself arguing with myself about it. Is it genius? Is it that bad? Is Emerson so hateful? Did The Confidence Man actually get angry -- or did he know the barber was just about set to close up shop for the night.

Melville's greatest work in a clean new lifetime edition, available right now. ... Read more

14. Billy Budd, Sailor and Selected Tales (Oxford World's Classics)
by Herman Melville
Paperback: 464 Pages (2009-04-15)
list price: US$8.95 -- used & new: US$4.88
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Asin: 0199538913
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Billy Budd is among the greatest of Melville's works and, in its richness and ambiguity, among the most problematic. Outwardly a compelling narrative of events aboard a British man-of-war during the turmoil of the Napoleonic Wars, Billy Budd, Sailor is a nautical recasting of the Fall, a parable of good and evil, a meditation on justice and political governance, and a searching portrait of three extraordinary men. In this edition are also eight shorter tales, reprinted from the most authoritative recent editions and are supplemented by a penetrating introduction and full notes. ... Read more

15. Melville: His World and Work
by Andrew Delbanco
Paperback: 446 Pages (2006-09-12)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$6.97
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Asin: 0375702970
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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If Dickens was nineteenth-century London personified, Herman Melville was the quintessential American. With a historian’s perspective and a critic’s insight, award-winning author Andrew Delbanco marvelously demonstrates that Melville was very much a man of his era and that he recorded — in his books, letters, and marginalia; and in conversations with friends like Nathaniel Hawthorne and with his literary cronies in Manhattan — an incomparable chapter of American history. From the bawdy storytelling of Typee to the spiritual preoccupations building up to and beyond Moby Dick, Delbanco brilliantly illuminates Melville’s life and work, and his crucial role as a man of American letters. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

2-0 out of 5 stars Very heavy carpentry throughout.

Though this book received several awards for biography, and mentioned as "first rate biography' by the New York Times I can't agree.I indeed purchased Mr. Delbanco's 2006 work looking forward to reading a first rate biography on this great writer.
Instead, what I got was a long tome with complex and highly subjective psychoanalytical criticism about the Melville canon. I read little about his life, somewhat more about his times and world, and by far more about Mr. Delbanco's parsing the root behavioral causality of Melville's creations.
It was, indeed, aptly pointed out by Mr. Delbanco that Melville left a light biographical record; hence, it is difficult for the scholar to research his life at depth.Actually, a book that is by-in-large just biography would be much shorter than this work's 325 pages of text.
So there are gaps that raise constructive temptations for the scholar.As one of my graduate professors once said about a project paper, "I see some very heavy carpentry going on in this work."
And throughout Delbanco's book, there is, in my view, some heavy carpentry that is conspicuously top heavy.He does this often in Melville.Worse yet, he seemed to be primarily of the Freudian persuasion, and once that takes hold of a critic's soul, it can get very wild.There are few sexual spins that Mr. Delbanco's avoids. On the contrary, each of Melville's works is thoroughly soaked in this dubious vat.
In presenting the historical and sociological context, Mr. Delbanco's does good work, but it could have been better.Since Melville's foundational works were so tied to the South Seas and Polynesia, I thought he might have shown a more accurate historical light on it, but he did not.
By the time Melville came upon the scene , contact was nearly a century old.Depopulation was more than halfway there.The expatriate Polynesians that populated the pages of Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast were an accurate account of the time, and Dana's travels preceded Melville's.
The Marquesas, one of the root sources for Hawaii's Polynesian people, preceded Hawaii regards the travails of contact.Fact is, Typee was and remains entirely a work of fiction by a young, ambitious writer bent on writing a successful work, and he succeeded.Nothing wrong with that--and as a writer of fiction, I can relate to it absolutely.
All the spins and conjectures regards Melville's romping with Polynesian beauties with white, flashing teeth made good fiction but bad scholarship.To see a scholarly spin off on these popular myths regards serious textual issues - well, that is not impressive. By 1800, there weren't many white, gleaming teeth in Polynesia, nor, sadly, clear skins.
It was far more interesting--if you did have to get serious about psychological elements regards Melville--why he would write positively--even reinforcingly-- about carefree sexual license.Then, after returning home, he married into such a hidebound, uptight New England tradition. As Mr. Delbanco pointed out, in this culture even anatomical structures (e.g. legs, waists, etc.) weren't considered mentionable in mixed company.
One cannot feature Mr. and Mrs. New Englander chasing each other around from window seat to window seat during major sexual frolicking.For one thing was absolutely true about Polynesian culture, it was vigorous and sensual, regardless of health issues.
So, if you get this book understand what lies ahead of you. Herman Melville was a creative power of such wide scope and magnitude, that Mr. Delbanco's efforts fall way short of doing him justice.

4-0 out of 5 stars probably the best of the recent ones
Not that by saying that I'm strongly recommending it or anything.

I read this recently on a road trip through Iran, which made it a bit more interesting than I think it otherwise would have been, but also made it harder to pay attention to.In fact, I was in Tehran when I read (on p. 8) that "as far away as Tehran there is a popular kebab place called `Moby Dick.'"Incredulous, I made my way over there, and sure enough!I managed to finish the next couple of chapters there.

I was particularly looking forward to this book after having read Andre Delbanco's famous classic essay "The Death of Literary Criticism," with which I agreed wholeheartedly.I liked his spirit and his outlook, so it was with eager fingers that I got a hold of a volume in which he harpoons my favorite author.

Really, though, I don't think there's been a better biography of Melville than the one Newton Arvin did in the 50s.Sure, it's out of date, but even at this remove it gives you all you need to know to get going on his books.It strikes the right balance between literary criticism and biography.

This latest job may use more recent scholarship, but unfortunately it also falls prey to pop psychology a bit much, not really struggling with Melville on his own terms so much as on ours.There's no sexual innuendo that isn't made much of for pages on end.Sheesh.If Melville had known the trouble he would be getting into on account of Ishmael and Queequeg sharing a bed, he would have had that harpooner sleep in the hall!

To Delbanco, Melville is a closet case pure and simple.If you aren't in the mood to constantly hear that, don't pick this book up.Delbanco is the kind of critic that will shape his entire understanding of a work of fiction on a few lewd references.

In fact, I would say that my most common emotion reading this book was revulsion.Despite my love for all things Melvillean, it was a struggle to get through.Here's a sample of what I'm talking about:

"The young Pierre may have felt `more than cousinly attachment' for his male cousin Glen, but the older Pierre is aroused by the sight of Isabel's nestled `ear' and craves the sensation of being enveloped by the throbbing walls of her `guitar.'"


5-0 out of 5 stars Informative, consistently interesting, and recommended
Melville's output is uneven. There's MOBY DICK and some of the stories in THE PIAZZA TALES, which are widely acknowledged as masterworks. Then, there are the many novels, such TYPEE, OMOO, MARDI, and so forth. These scold me from my shelves, demanding my time and effort, since they are works by a man of genius. But they aren't great books.

While certainly not his intention, Delbanco's terrific book, MELVILLE: HIS WORLD AND HIS WORK, has had the effect of liberating me from second-rate Melville. This has happened because Delbanco describes the work in Melville's oeuvre in relation to the masterworks. As a result, this general-interest reader no longer feels the need to plow through Melville's baroque syntax and obscure references, thinking all the works will repay the effort. Instead, I'm now comfortable leaving TYPEE, OMOO, MARDI, and so forth to the specialists. Maybe, I'll retry them one day. But for now, I'm happy knowing how they led to and from the great books.

Using this approach, Delbanco explains, for example, how TYPEE is a young man's book of exotic racy adventure in the Marquesan islands; how OMOO follows this best-seller formula, just moving the locale to the Hawaiian Islands; how MARDI is an effort to get beyond the limits of the adventure form; how REDBURN is Melville's effort to capture urban misery, a la his contemporary Dickens; and how WHITE-JACKET is an implicit reference to slavery. This approach, in other words, places Melville's work within his historical period, as well as shows how an increasingly frustrated mid-list author tried to connect to an audience.

At the same time, Delbanco provides very interesting critical commentary on MOBY DICK, BARTLEBY THE SCRIVENER, BENITO CERENO, and BILLY BUDD. This has the effect of making me want to return to these great texts, which I last read before my children were born. (Don't ask.) The literary commentary, by the way, is sometimes hilarious. Here are some examples, with Delbanco discussing PIERRE:

o "At the beginning of the novel, when Pierre is skipping through the vernal hills crooning nature hymns... he seems a nineteenth-century Tiny Tim doing his eyeball-rolling rendition of `Tiptoe Through the Tulips'."

o "Pierre is Ahab gone camp."

o "In PIERRE, Melville somehow managed to produce both a serious anatomy of the radical imagination that anticipates Dostoyevsky's THE POSSESSED and a manic burlesque that looks toward Gore Vidal's MYRA BRECKENRIDGE."

Finally, Delbanco tells the sketchy story of Melville's difficult personal life, which was dispiriting and harrowing, even as he produced his great works. It's truly sad to read about such an amazing talent in his obscure and dark defeat.

4-0 out of 5 stars Places the man squarely in his setting
This is a fascinatingly rich account of Melville's development as a writer with a particularly strong focus on his surroundings and environment and their influence on his work. DelBanco is at his best when describing settings such as 1840's Manhattan with it's noise , crowds and filth. Melville emerges through the details as the narrative shifts seamlessly between historical anecdotes to literary biography and analysis. For anyone with an interest in Melville this is time well spent.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Good Biography
I was in Munich in 2008 and I brought one book with me--Delbanco's wonderful biography of Melville. I've read many biographies of writers, philosophers and statemen. Without any other worthwhile book to read and out of boredom I read and reread his biography and as a far traveler, it seemed as if Melville became a distant uncle, someone I knew or someone who was a good friend. Please read the section about the difference between a pipe smoker and a cigar smoker. Delbanco is writing neither out of passion nor is he writing to impress; he's presenting a great American writer like he would a favorite wine or an inexpensive dish from his favorite local haunt. Indulge and imbibe. Such wonderful biographies are quite rare. ... Read more

16. Complete Shorter Fiction (Everyman's Library)
by Herman Melville
Hardcover: 528 Pages (1997-10-15)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$12.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375400680
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Herman Melville (1819-91) brought as much genius to the smaller-scale literary forms as he did to the full-blown novel: his poems and the short stories and novellas collected in this volume reveal a deftness and a delicacy of touch that is in some ways even more impressive than the massive, tectonic passions of Moby-Dick. In a story like "Bartleby, the Scrivener" -- one of the very few perfect representatives of the form in the English language -- he displayed an unflinching precision and insight and empathy in his depiction of the drastically alienated inner life of the title character. In "Benito Cereno," he addressed the great racial dilemmas of the nineteenth century with a profound, almost surreal imaginative clarity. And in Billy, Budd, Sailor, the masterpiece of his last years, he fused the knowledge and craft gained from a lifetime's magnificent work into a pure, stark, flawlessly composed tale of innocence betrayed and destroyed. Melville is justly honored for the epic sweep of his mind, but his lyricism, his skill in rendering the minute, the particular, the local, was equally sublime. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars a treasure
A wonderful collection of some fine stories by one of the greatest writers America will ever produce. ... Read more

17. Three American Poets (Penguin Classics)
by Herman Melville, Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, Edwin Arlington Robinson
Paperback: 304 Pages (2003-11-25)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$7.59
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Asin: 0140436863
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A unique collection of poems from three writers living under the shadow of the Civil War

Three great American poets, all of whom preferred the solitary life, and yet each responded, in very different ways, to the greatest social event of their times: the challenge of living in a country recovering from civil war. The selection from Melville aims to show the range of his shorter verse, from the public poet intensely concerned with the Civil War and its meaning for humanity, to the private poet, as he withdrew from the eyes of the world. Robinson's quintessential and much anthologised famous poems can be read set alongside the less widely-read pieces also included here. Tuckerman is a neglected poet, whose poems reflect his friendship with Tennyson and his grief for the loss of his wife. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Get this for the Tuckerman
Tuckerman is an intriguing, neglected poet (check out the Wikipedia article on him) whose works are to be found in reprints and somewhat pricey older collections The Complete Poems of Frederick Goddard Tuckerman., though I see that a new selected poems is due out in April 2010 Selected Poems of Frederick Goddard Tuckerman (The John Harvard Library).A decent sampling of his verse can be found in this Penguin Classics edition.I discovered him for myself last summer and I was pleasantly surprised how quickly and easily I was drawn into his art.

5-0 out of 5 stars Into the Light
If you're toting up American poets of the 19th century, Dickinson gets one finger, Whitman another, but who's on third? A friend recently told me the smart money's on Tuckerman (Tuckerman?), and the only Tuckerman I could find is in this volume, wedged between the wet log of a poet that's Melville--lots of smoke and dramatic crackle, little flame--and E.A.R., who got enough laurel in his own life to really deserve space here. (There's also small connection with Melville and Tuckerman, born two years apart and both similarly neglected.)

Tuckerman was the laureate of autumnal gloom, with winter's blast just around the corner. He came to his melancholy honestly, losing an infant daughter, then his beloved wife in childbirth, after which Tuckerman withdrew to Greenfield, MA and let the Civil War and pretty much everything else roll past him. His poems are dense, knotty verbal contrivances that are a world away from the populist bounce of so many of his contemporaries; the subject matter's death-drenched and wrenching while staying this side of Goth. Penguin stuck out its neck on this one and I'm glad. On to Clarel ... ... Read more

18. Shorter Novels Of Melville
by Melville Herman
Paperback: 336 Pages (1978-09-17)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$7.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0871401223
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars short masterpieces
For anyone interested in the not-so-often read novellas of Melville, this is a great little collection. The titles include "Benito Cereno," "Bartleby the Scrivener," "The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles" and "Billy Budd, Foretopman."

The introduction is full of information about Melville and gives an excellent overview of the nuances of his work. ... Read more

19. Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas (Penguin Classics)
by Herman Melville
Paperback: 416 Pages (2007-03-27)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.53
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Asin: 0143104926
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Melville’s continuing adventures in the South Seas—now for the first time in Penguin Classics

Following the commercial and critical success of Typee, Herman Melville continued his series of South Sea adventure-romances with Omoo. Named after the Polynesian term for a rover, or someone who roams from island to island, Omoo chronicles the tumultuous events aboard a South Sea whaling vessel and is based on Melville’s personal experiences as a crew member on a ship sailing the Pacific. From recruiting among the natives for sailors to handling deserters and even mutiny, Melville gives a first-person account of life as a sailor during the nineteenth century filled with colorful characters and vivid descriptions of the far-flung locales of Polynesia. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

2-0 out of 5 stars Herman Melville - Omoo (1847)
One year after Melville struck gold with 'Typee', his first novel and a colorful account of life in the Polynesian islands, the new writer published 'Omoo'.Melville's success with 'Typee', while not stratospheric, was significant enough for his publisher to print 'Omoo' sight unseen. Unfortunately, 'Omoo' is a prime example of the dreaded sophmore slump so feared by artists. 'Omoo' is more of the same subject matter found in 'Typee', but as we all know lightning rarely strikes twice in the same place. 'Omoo' is a pale companion to 'Typee'.

The main issue is 'Omoo' lacks the unifying theme of Melville's captivity on a tropical island that gave 'Typee' a core.On top of that, the tales (or yarns, depending on how much truth you believe are in these pseudo-autobiographical novels) Melville relates this time out are not nearly as interesting as those found in 'Typee'.I was pretty bored with 'Omoo' for many of its pages.

Melville's writing is just as crisp and immediate as it was in 'Typee', but this book centers more around Melville's wanderings in Tahiti than it does on Polynesian life.Other sailors and colonial towns are really at the forefront of this book. There's more commentary on the missionary movement which is interesting from a cultural standpoint but it just doesn't come alive.

There are some interesting elements that surface from time to time, but the overall travelogue feel of this book - which 'Typee' largely managed to avoid - means Melville can't develop any of them.A Polynesian joins Melville on a ship as they leave the Marquesas, and his homesickness is touching. However, the character just vanishes at some point, and I don't even remember where or why. Another example is the author's meeting with Pomaree, the Queen of Tahiti.There's a big build up to this meeting, but the pay-off is a drab let-down.

'Omoo' was a moderate success for Melville due to it being enough like his first book to lure readers back for a retread. Most modern readers should probably read 'Typee' and skip 'Omoo'.

3-0 out of 5 stars Melville is one of us (provided you are liberal and tolerant)
You may have heard of the author. This is one of his lesser-read works, although not the least read, that would be Clarel. Even though part of this novel takes place on a whaleship, and has preachers in high pulpits, a Maori, a negro cook, and uses the word gallied, it is quite different from Moby Dick.

This novel is a straightforward first-person account of adventure by a sensitive, well-read sailor called consecutively Typee and Paul. He escapes from his previous novel (where he was called Tammo) to a whaleship, becomes a mutineer, is clapped in a Tahitian calabooza, and then released to explore the nearby island of Eimeo. He finds the farther he is from Western influence the happier are the natives. That's it.

Two things stand out in this wisp of an adventure story. One is Melville's humor. "There was no absolute deformity about the man, he was symmetrically ugly." "About the eyes, there was no mistaking him; with a villainous cast in one, they seemed suspicious of each other." "The very men he flogged loved him as a brother, for he had such an irresistibly good-natured way of knocking them down, that no one could find it in his heart to bear malice against him."

The other is Melville's prophetic outlook. He seems more like us, more at home in our liberal, tolerant, 21st century Obama democracy, than he does in his own era. This comes across when he laments the decimation of the Tahitian people from 200,000 at the time of Cook to barely 9,000 people in 1842; deplores the introduction of western commerce which left the Polynesians with nothing to do; and regrets the effort to civilize and christianize the natives which brought about "ignorance, hypocrisy and hatred of other faiths."

I'll end with a digression. At times I felt insulted by the editor. Editors have to decide who is my audience? what should I assume they know? It would seem natural to believe that anyone bothering to read this book is culturally literate and is more likely to read literature than adventure tales. I would bet we're reading this book because we like Melville. However, this gal Edwards believes her audience knows NOTHING. As a result she wastes a good deal of ink correcting Melville's spelling, and needlessly explaining obvious things like what are casks, harpooners and pearl-oysters, where are Palermo and Cape Horn, who were Napoleon and Lord Nelson, and that Taurus is a constellation. It would have been better if she had followed the example of Beaver in Penguin's excellent 1972 edition of Moby Dick: maps of the Society Islands, a couple of diagrams of a whaleship indicating the technical names of its structure and sails, and notes that identify obscure technical terms, literary allusions and repeated themes.

4-0 out of 5 stars Missionary mischief and French farce in the South Pacific
Cultural and religious artefacts are destroyed. Music and dancing is considered lascivious and is banned. A dress code is introduced and women must be chaste in both their clothing and demeanour. Names must be drawn from religious texts. Today we are familiar with the cultural barbarism of the Taliban but here I am talking about Christian missionaries in the South Pacific in the early nineteenth century. However, Melville's acerbic commentary on religious oppression was not popular in his home country and some of his observations were edited out. But it was not only the missionaries who were instrumental in the destruction of Polynesian traditions and culture as Europeans also brought measles, syphilis and new mosquito species. Then, to top it all the narrator of Omoo heard `a salute, which afterward turned out to be a treaty; or rather - as far as the natives were concerned - a forced concession of Tahiti to the French', a deceit which the French state 170 years on seems curiously and stubbornly reluctant to rectify.
Polynesian woes notwithstanding, Omoo, which begins where Typee left off, lacks the pace and panache of Melville's better-known and more popular novel. Rescued from the Marquesas Islands by boat, Typee (the narrator, formerly Tommo in Typee) is involved in a mutiny and incarcerated on Tahiti before getting away to Moorea. The book, which mixes factual experiences with fanciful fiction consists largely of the narrators wanderings, observations and encounters with numerous characters on Tahiti and Imeeo (his spelling of Eimeo, now Moorea). Mercifully there are pages of explanatory notes in the Penguin classics version because once the `flying jib-boom snapped off like a pipe stem', and the `spanker-gaff came down by the run' I was getting a little seasick. It is better to stick to Typee.

4-0 out of 5 stars Typee II
(This review is based on the Library of America edition.)

If you liked "Typee", then you should like "Omoo"; but you should know that the narrative isn't quite as tight. What I mean is that "Omoo" is as excellently written as its predecessor, but it doesn't seem to have much a strong story-line. In short, it's a series of adventures, well told, but there's nothing building. I couldn't even sum the book up in other ways than this: a series of adventures in the South Seas.

If you're into sea and island stories, you may like it. The book is made of short chapters, as usual with Melville, and it's really funny (I always found Melville funny). It's interesting in parts, but on the whole, I think it's a much less successful novel than "Typee". Perhaps this was the beginning of what Melville would later do with "Moby-Dick", a sort of willed unfocusedness. ... Read more

20. Omoo
by Herman Melville
Kindle Edition: Pages (2009-10-04)
list price: US$1.99
Asin: B002RKT7KA
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This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more

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