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Almost From The Time Of Its Publication In , Melville S First Book, Based On His Own Travels In The South Seas, Has Been Recognized As A Classic In The Literature Of Travel And Adventure Although Initially Rejected As Too Fantastic To Be True, Typee Was Immensely Popular And Regarded In Melville S Lifetime As His Best Work It Established His Reputation As The Literary Discoverer Of The South Seas And Inspired The Likes Of Jack London And Robert Louis StevensonTwo Common Sailors Jump Ship And Are Held In Benign Captivity By Polynesian Natives Through The Narrator S Eyes We See A Literate If Romanticized Portrait Of The People And Their Culture Presented In Vivid, Even Scientific, Detail Melville S Racy Style And Irreverence Toward Christian Missionaries Caused A Scandal, And Critics Denounced The Narrator S Suggestion That The Native Life Might Be Superior To That Of Modern Civilization An Adventure Story Above All, Albeit One With A Philosophical Bent, Typee Is A Combination Of Elements That Even Early In Melville S Career Hinted At The Towering Ambition He Would Fulfill With Moby Dick It ain t no Moby Dick but it does feature cannibalism and polyandry, two of the greatest things ever conceived of by mankind.Melville s first novel is his barely fictionalized account of his escape from a shitty employer on a whaling ship and how he ended up living amongst the Typee in the Marquesas Islands around the time the French took control Like Dick, Typee has a lot of sections of fact which round out the narrative part of the story and which feed off of the narrator s desires and fears These segues are, respectively, a free love fuckin and b eating human flesh The first is acceptable and discussed in the greater context of what Melville sees as the nobility of these people Much of the novel is given over to the excoriation of European missionary practices and the Anglo Gallic poisoning of the native cultures of these people What could be interpreted as their indolence and frank, open sexual s he watches the chief in a threeway he instead interprets as an idyllic, carefree, simplistic life Like Thoreau with orgies, maybe The rest of the novel is given over to the second theme these people are freakin cannibals who are gonna eat me Indeed, the narrator is consumed with trying to understand why else, if not for food, the locals insist on keeping him in their village He discusses their bizarre rituals and habits, their wars with the next valley over, and, finally, finds out that, yes, they do eat other goddamn people.Typee lacks the narrative drive of Dick, but, like that other great 19th century chronicler of human ills, Dickens, Melville is such an outstanding prose maker that you tend to overlook the flaws. A travelogue and idealized South Sea island adventure story inspired by that time Melville and his crewmate, Richard Tobias Toby Greene, jumped ship in the Marquesas and spent a month on Nuku Hiva I can t blame him for wanting to write about it.It was Melville s first book and a sensational bestseller on its release Written before Melville began to study the writings of Sir Thomas Browne Heretofore our author s style was rough in places, but marvellously simple and direct as Arthur Stedman points out in his Introduction to the Edition of 1892 Stedman s biographical and critical introduction isn t included in the audio edition George Guidall, Narrator , but you can find it at Project Gutenberg.https www.gutenberg.org files 1900 Yet, after all, insensible as he is to a thousand wants, and removed from harassing cares, my not the savage be the happier manHerman Melville, Typee A Peep at Polynesian Life Herman Melville s first book Typee is a blend of creative memoir, cultural commentary, and good story telling Melville recounts and elaborates on his experiences among the Typee cannibals on the French Polynesian island of Nuku Hiva Marquesas Islands in 1842 Typee ended up being Meville s best selling book during his lifetime, no doubt due to both his skill as a writer mated with his romantic story of life among Polynesian savages The book flows nicely and balances between the chasms of cultural superiority nobel savage worship that can easily dominate these types of books Reading this made me think of similar types of long form journalism that catch fire in our day Junger to Theroux to Conover to Vollmann While approachable, it isn t Melville s best work, but shows early signs of motifs that would show up later in Moby Dick, Billy Budd, etc This is the story Herman Melville was meant to tell I hated Billy Budd I liked Moby Dick a lot I loved Typee.Not coincidentally, Melville wrote this before he had met Nathaniel Hawthorne and everything else he ever wrote after I think Hawthorne ruined Melville as a writer.This book feels real Melville writes what he knows there s no stilted humorous overwrought dialogue There s no pedagogic symbolism There s no melodrama There s just the story of a guy running away from a nasty sea captain and living with Polynesian cannibals for a while His obvious firsthand experience with natives of the Marquesas Islands makes for a good travelogue, as well as a good novel.After finishing the book I was disappointed to read that most of it was fake I wanted to get in there and tell Melville he never should have left he should have gotten tattooed and married Fayaway and had a big wedding feast where they roasted and ate their Happar enemies, and he never should have left the island Then I realized that was really a testament to Melville s ability this time, anyway to create something that felt real aside it should have been obvious that Melville didn t really spend 4 months there, as after 4 months his knowledge of the language would have been much better than it was I should add that the librivox version has a darned good narrator He comes across as I don t know one of those old school 60 Minutes correspondents in his play it straightness, but just below the surface bemusement It works perfectly.