Billy Budd and Other Stories

Billy Budd and Other Stories

by Herman Melville
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Billy Budd and Other Stories by Herman Melville

Stung by the critical reception and lack of commercial success of his previous two works, Moby-Dick and Pierre, Herman Melville became obsessed with the difficulties of communicating his vision to readers. His sense of isolation lies at the heart of these later works. "Billy Budd, Sailor," a classic confrontation between good and evil, is the story of an innocent young man unable to defend himself against a wrongful accusation. The other selections here-"Bartleby," "The Encantadas," "Benito Cereno," and "The Piazza"-also illuminate, in varying guises, the way fictions are created and shared with a wider society. In his introduction Frederick Busch discusses Melville's preoccupation with his "correspondence with the world," his quarrel with silence, and why fiction was, for Melville, "a matter of life and death."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781420946697
Publisher: Publishing
Publication date: 10/20/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Herman Melville was born in August 1, 1819, in New York City, the son of a merchant. Only twelve when his father died bankrupt, young Herman tried work as a bank clerk, as a cabin-boy on a trip to Liverpool, and as an elementary schoolteacher, before shipping in January 1841 on the whaler Acushnet, bound for the Pacific. Deserting ship the following year in the Marquesas, he made his way to Tahiti and Honolulu, returning as ordinary seaman on the frigate United States to Boston, where he was discharged in October 1844. Books based on these adventures won him immediate success. By 1850 he was married, had acquired a farm near Pittsfield, Massachussetts (where he was the impetuous friend and neighbor of Nathaniel Hawthorne), and was hard at work on his masterpiece Moby-Dick.

Literary success soon faded; his complexity increasingly alienated readers. After a visit to the Holy Land in January 1857, he turned from writing prose fiction to poetry. In 1863, during the Civil War, he moved back to New York City, where from 1866-1885 he was a deputy inspector in the Custom House, and where, in 1891, he died. A draft of a final prose work, Billy Budd, Sailor, was left unfinished and uncollated, packed tidily away by his widow, where it remained until its rediscovery and publication in 1924.

Frederick Busch (1941–2006) was the recipient of many honors, including an American Academy of Arts and Letters Fiction Award, a National Jewish Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award. The prolific author of sixteen novels and six collections of short stories, Busch is renowned for his writing’s emotional nuance and minimal, plainspoken style. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he lived most of his life in upstate New York, where he worked for forty years as a professor at Colgate University. 

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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Billy Budd and Other Stories 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This collection contains Melville's great last work 'Billy Budd'- in it he in his usual complicated and morally ambiguous way outlines a dramatic conflict in character which is also a conflict in ideals. The grand innocent Billy Budd cannot contend with the evil of this world, his nemesis Claggart. And the paternal Captain Vere does not prevent the sacrifice. In another of the tales, perhaps the American parallel to Kafka's Gregor Samsa, and Dostoevsky' Underground Man the nondescript Bartleby ' who would prefer not to' gives a paradoxically moving example of utter loneliness and alienation. Melville is the master at evoking atmosphere and of course does it incomparably with the sea- yarns but in Bartleby he captures the mid- nineteenth century Manhattan office world. This is one of the finest collections of ' long stories' in all of world- literature.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Melville has been rightly called 'the American Dostoyevsky'. 'Billy Budd' is a book for literary epicures, as it is masterly written and philosophically erudite. The Handsome Sailor's name is reminiscent of Buddha's and it is no accident, as Billy Budd(ha) transcends this world, this deck of ours, which is like our life's stage. A friend of mine said that mistakes can be amended but injustice cripples permanently. We have all been crippled in some sence, and this is a book about all of us.