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About the book
  • Published: 3 March 2010
  • ISBN: 9780451530813
  • Imprint: Signet
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $8.99

Billy Budd and Other Tales


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The short stories of Herman Melville are considered today to be among the small masterpieces of American fiction.  BILLY BUDD, Melville's posthumously published novella, is a classic tale of innocence, evil, and murder that depicts the rivalry between a simple, handsome young sailor and a demonic superior.  BARTLEBY is the subtly comic tale of an apathetic scrivener, and BENITO CERENO is the story of a Spanish sea captain caught up in a slave revolt on his ship.  Included in this volume are THE PIZZA TALES as well as THE TOWN-HO'S STORY, a chapter from MOBY-DICK.  By turns haunting and comic, and always compelling, these fine stories convey the diversity and grandeur of Melville's talent as well as the depth of his themes.

  • Pub date: 3 March 2010
  • ISBN: 9780451530813
  • Imprint: Signet
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $8.99

About the Author

Herman Melville

Herman Melville was born on 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.

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