- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Only a handful of Americans in Melville’s time were lucky enough to venture far and wide enough to see places like Polynesia, and Melville took great advantage of his time on the French-controlled islands, eventually turning the experience into his very first book. Throughout the trip, Melville was accompanied by his close friend Richard Tobias Greene, and Melville focused on simply enjoying himself in the exotic lands, living for three weeks among the natives of Typee, who lived primitively in pointed huts made ...
Only a handful of Americans in Melville’s time were lucky enough to venture far and wide enough to see places like Polynesia, and Melville took great advantage of his time on the French-controlled islands, eventually turning the experience into his very first book. Throughout the trip, Melville was accompanied by his close friend Richard Tobias Greene, and Melville focused on simply enjoying himself in the exotic lands, living for three weeks among the natives of Typee, who lived primitively in pointed huts made of animal skins. The dwellings closely resembled those of the Native Americans, and for Melville, living among the reportedly cannibalistic people was a romantic adventure. Though it easily could have turned into a dangerous and inhospitable outing, Melville saw the trip as a getaway from the hustle-bustle of life in New York.
Upon his return to America, Melville was now determined to write, and in the summer of 1845 he finished his first novel about his ventures in Polynesia. He appropriately named the book Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life. Typee was precisely the kind of travel and adventure novel that became very popular during the mid-19th century and helped Mark Twain forge a career out of travelogues. Melville’s story about travel, adventure, and the “noble savage” that was so popular in the Western world of the 19th century struck a chord with its audience, even as the novel criticizes the missionaries located there attempting to “civilize” the natives
Although the travel element and the exotic surroundings fascinated readers, adventure and danger were the dominant themes of the book. The novel centered on a man who was imprisoned on the island of Nukuheva, amid primitive peoples who did not understand the ways of the West. Caught amid cannibals, the prisoner is left to fend for himself, trying to escape from jail. In the process he enters into a forbidden romance with Fayaway, one of the native girls.
The novel immediately became one of America’s greatest and most beloved travel narratives, at the time second only to the works of Lewis and Clark. Melville’s work, however, was not purely autobiographical: the author admitted that it was partly fictional and meant to draw from his experiences, not merely recount them. Given that Typee was semi-autobiographical and augmented by contemporary accounts Melville heard about, it’s unclear to what extent the views of the people were his own.
This edition of Melville's classic includes a Table of Contents.
|About This Series|
|A Note on the Text||15|
|The Story of Toby: A Sequel to Typee||240|
|Pt. 2||Revising Typee||251|
|Minor Changes in the Revised Edition||252|
|The Draft Manuscript||256|
|From The New Zealanders (1830)||282|
|Pt. 3||Contexts and Comments||285|
|From Voyages and Travels in Various Parts of the World (1813)||289|
|From A Residence of Twenty-One Years in the Sandwich Islands (1847)||294|
|From Omoo; A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas (1847)||301|
|From "Shipboard Relations between Pacific Island Women and Euroamerican Men, 1767-1887" (1992)||303|
|"The King of the Cannibal Islands" (1830)||318|
|From Slavery, as it Relates to the Negro, or African Race (1843)||320|
|From History of the Conquest of Mexico (1843)||325|
|"Manners and Customs of the New Zealanders" (1840)||329|
|From The Marquesas Islands: Their Description and Early History (1841)||332|
|From "'British Cannibals': Contemplation of an Event in the Death and Resurrection of James Cook, Explorer" (1992)||334|
|From Adventures in the Pacific (1845)||345|
|From Omoo; A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas (1847)||350|
|From "The Art of the Body" (1995)||355|
|From "Journal" and "Intimate Notebook" (1833)||368|
|From A Visit to the South Seas (1831)||372|
|From Journal of a Cruize Made to the Pacific Ocean (1815)||379|
|"'The Thrice Mysterious Taboo': Melville's Typee and the Perception of Culture" (1999)||383|
Posted July 18, 2014
As someone very interested in Polynesia, at the time of European contact, this book is a fascinating view at a Marquesan society barely in touch with the European whalers, adventurers and missionaries who had landed on the shores of this archipelago. As is well known, Melville is a wonderful writer and a very careful observer. Even though some parts of his narrative are fiction, his description of Marquesan life in the 1840's is very credible in light of what is now known about Polynesians at that time. While his language abounds in the ethnocentric vernacular of that time, he gives his native captors and usually gracious hosts, as well as their way of life, the respect they were due. Typee is rightfully considered a classic in literature on the South Pacific, as is it's sequel, Omoo, on Tahiti. I highly recommend both books.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.