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Typee by Herman Melville (REVIEW)

Today we take a look at the first book by the great American novelist (a reputation he did not enjoy until one hundred years after his birth, twenty-eight years after his death, when his work underwent a revival of sorts) Herman Melville.

a month ago

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A Critic's Meta Review: 5/5

Typee by Herman Melville (1819-1891). Published by planksip

A Critic's Meta Review: 5/5

Today we take a look at the first book by the great American novelist (a reputation he did not enjoy until one hundred years after his birth, twenty-eight years after his death, when his work underwent a revival of sorts) Herman Melville. Apparently, when he’s not writing about whales and whatnot, he’s out here living in the jungles of French Polynesia, among the so-called “savages” as they were referred to at the time. I don’t feel, however, that this is a fair way of characterizing indigenous people - and neither did Melville (more on that later).

First, some context: this book is largely based on the author’s experiences living on the island of Nuku Hiva, deep in the South Pacific, where the French soon laid down their flag and forced everyone to learn their silly language (seriously, it sounds like the way people talk when they’re about to throw up). On this island, there is a valley called Taipivai; however, during the time period in which Melville was living there, it was known as Taipi. Hence, the title: Typee. This is not to be confused with what many people refer to their keyboards as (Get it? If you’re the typer, then the keyboard must be the...alright, I’m sorry, that one really was awful; they can’t all be zingers, man!)

Now that we’ve gotten that squared away (“And what exactly did we get squared away, might I ask?” Be quiet, internal voice! I will be speaking with you later...much later), let us delve into the meat and potatoes, if you will, of this here novel. For starters (so I guess not really meat and potatoes, after all), I must begin by pointing out that, although this book is indeed based on Melville’s own personal experience, it is also copiously littered with situations that are nothing but the creation of his own imagination. But he is a writer, and that is what writers do. They embellish.

What he did not embellish, however, was how absurd the attempts by Christian missionaries to “civilize” the indiginous Polynesians were. Keep in mind that this was a group of people that already possessed their own customs, traditions, and general outlook on life. And now they’re being told by a bunch of pasty do-gooders that if they don’t put a little water on their baby’s head, it’s going to burn for eternity in the fiery pits of Hell.

Come on, son!

5/5 would recommend

Typee by Herman Melville (1819-1891). Published by planksip

Published a month ago