Billy Budd, Sailor: An Inside Narrative (with Disk)by Herman Melville
It is a time of war between nations, but on one ship, a smaller battle is being fought between two men. Jealous of Billy Budd, the "Handsome Sailor", the envious Master-At-Arms Claggart torments the young man until his false accusations lead to a charge of treason against Billy. Complete and unabridged.
- Date of Birth:
- August 1, 1819
- Date of Death:
- September 28, 1891
- Place of Birth:
- New York, New York
- Place of Death:
- New York, New York
- Attended the Albany Academy in Albany, New York, until age 15
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Before asking students to tackle 'Moby Dick,' we assign 'Billy Budd' as part of the freshman high school curriculum. This novella is true to Melville's style: not always easy reading, but enormously rewarding. The drama unfolds with the digressions and character analysis which those who love Melville relish and those who do not find annoying. This reader is solidly in the former group. Melville's digressions are chatty and informative, yet --in so many ways-- they add to the tone and enhance reader's understanding of the context of the action of the novel. Melville makes it so easy to imagine a salty, old, sea-dog, ruminating as he smokes his pipe and tells his story. This edition has much to recommend it. There is en extended reader's supplement which contains biographical information on the author, explanations of the nautical, military and naval terms and clarification of the biblical, mythological and historical allusions which fill its few pages. A good follow-up to the novella is viewing the film with Peter Ustinov as Captain Vere and Terrence Stamp as the title character. The opera by Benjamin Britten also follows the book very closely and is available on cd and in video. This book makes a good first introduction to Melville, and this edition is excellent.
The only reason I read this was because I was forced to by my English teacher, and for what reason, I don't know. It is tediously boring, and he continually makes a point of going off on naval history that has no real concrete relavence to the story line, which is the weakest I've ever seen. Even though it's 95 pages, it felt like 500.