Melville in the South Pacific

Melville in the South Pacific

North Star Books #22
by Henry Beetle Hough
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
©1960, Item: 90707
Hardcover, 184 pages
Not in stock

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Twenty-one years old, strong, alert, adventuresome and of pleasant disposition! That was Herman Melville when he signed the papers to join the crew of the whaleship Acushnet in January, 1841, bound for the fabulous South Sea Islands by way of treacherous Cape Horn.

Melville is now remembered as one of America's most important novelists, author of the world-famous Moby Dick. But in the early 1840's he was just another young whaler, eating moldy meat and flinty sea biscuit, climbing the icy rigging to reef the sails, and as anxious as the next man to escape tyranny and boredom by jumping ship when it reached the beautiful island of Nukuhiva in the Marquesas group.

What lay ahead of Melville and his friend Toby on that green and mountainous island makes up the first half of this true and enchanting story. Seeking the supposedly friendly Happer tribe, the two fugitives came instead into the hidden valley of the cannibalistic Typees, where they were treated like honored guests—but guests that might someday be eaten. When Melville accidentally caught a glimpse of human heads wrapped in tapa cloth, and later human bones in a covered calabash, he realized what probably lay in store for him and Toby.

In the meantime he was cared for tenderly by a native named Kory-Kory and entertained by the lovely and gentle sister of his keeper—the Polynesian maiden Fayaway.

Melville's first two books, Typee and Omoo, are the autobiographical basis for this spirited retelling of his years in the South Pacific. His adventures on Nukuhiva and later on the island of Tahiti are factual, but as exciting and amazing as the most romantic fiction.

from the dust jacket

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