In 1797, Billy Budd is forced into compulsory service aboard the HMS Bellipotent. Billy, a foundling from Bristol, has an innocence, good looks and a natural charisma that make him popular with the crew. After arousing the antagonism of the ship’s master-at-arms, Billy is placed into a precarious situation where truth and justice are intertwined in a moral dilemma that will decide his very fate.
Billy Budd, Sailor is the final novel by Herman Melville, first published posthumously in London in 1924. Created slowly over the last five years of his life, Billy Budd represents Melville’s return to prose fiction after three decades of only writing poetry. Melville had begun writing the original work in November 1888, but left it unfinished at his death in 1891. Acclaimed by British critics as a masterpiece when published in London, it quickly took its place as a classic literary work in the United States.
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About the Author
His writing draws on his experience at sea as a common sailor, exploration of literature and philosophy, and engagement in the contradictions of American society in a period of rapid change. He developed a complex, baroque style; the vocabulary is rich and original, a strong sense of rhythm infuses the elaborate sentences, the imagery is often mystical or ironic, and the abundance of allusion extends to biblical scripture, myth, philosophy, literature, and the visual arts.
Melville was born in New York City, the third child of a merchant in French dry goods and his wife. His formal education ended abruptly after his father died in 1832, as this left the family in financial straits. He briefly became a schoolteacher before he took to sea in 1839 as a sailor on a merchant ship. In 1840, he signed aboard the whaler Acushnet for his first whaling voyage but jumped ship in the Marquesas Islands. He returned to Boston in 1844 after further adventures. In August 1850, Melville moved his growing family to Arrowhead, a farm in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he established a profound but short-lived friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne, to whom he dedicated Moby-Dick.
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
Education:Attended the Albany Academy in Albany, New York, until age 15