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Herman Melville drew upon his experiences as a sailor in the South Seas for this 1847 work. Omoo takes its title from a Polynesian term referring to a rover--someone who wanders from island to island, as Melville did over a three-month period.
Resuming his narrative where Typee left off, the author recounts his rescue from an island of cannibals by a British whaler. When the ship's disgruntled crew stages an unsuccessful mutiny, the narrator finds himself--along with the mutineers--imprisoned in a Tahitian jail. There, he and a companion, Doctor Long Ghost, are treated kindly by the curious, amiable natives. After their release, the two men travel about the region, experiencing a series of adventures as they observe traditional rites and customs, work at odd jobs, contrive an audience with the Tahitian Queen (it is a dismal failure), and note the disturbing influences of the missionaries and planters on local culture.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Series:||Penguin Classics Series|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
At seventeen, he became a merchant seaman, sailing first to Liverpool, where the sexual activity at the docks at first shocked him but then opened up a new world for him, for he was attracted to men. At age twenty-one, he sailed to the South Pacific. Four novels came from this experience: Typee, Omoo, Mardi, and White Jacket. Another early novel, Redburn, is set primarily aboard ship. Philosophically, the strength of his early novels is his disdain for the white man trying to force civilization onto a people who were blissfully happy without it. He particularly objected to the indoctrination of religion. All of the books contain an undeniable homoeroticism.
Melville moved to the countryside to write Moby Dick. The novel is an adventure story and a tale of revenge, but it is also an audacious experiment. The reaction from critics was so harsh that from the publication of Moby Dick in 1851 until about 1938, Melville was not afforded much respect among scholars.
In 1852, Melville published Pierre, which is autobiographical in its anatomy of the despair Melville was feeling at the rejection of Moby Dick. Pierre was scandalous for its day, almost as if Melville were thumbing his nose at society. Melville was now only thirty-two but considered a failed writer. His next story was refused for publication, so he retired and lived in relative obscurity for the remainder of his days. When he died, however, he left Billy Budd, which some critics think the equal of 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
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