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Billy Budd and Typee
Herman Melville


REFERENCE

GLOSSARY

AFT
Toward the stern, or tail end of the ship.

BATTERY
A group of guns of the same caliber.

BEAM
The width of a ship.

BELLS
The way time is told at sea by ringing a certain number of bells on the half-hour.

BLUEJACKET
A sailor.

BOATSWAIN
A petty officer on a ship in charge of rigging, cables, anchors, and similar matters.

BOOM
A long, horizontal pole used in extending sails, handling cargo, and pushing the ship away from wharves.

BREECHING
A strong rope used to secure a ship's gun in place.

BULWARK
The side of the ship raised above the level of the deck for purposes of protection.

CAPSTAN
A device for winding in ropes or cables.

DARBIES
British slang for handcuffs.

DEADEYE
A disk of wood with holes in it used in tightening the ship's rigging.

DOG-WATCH
One of the two-hour watches (period of duty for ship's crew) occurring between 4 and 8 PM.

FORECASTLE
The seaman's quarters located in the forward part of a ship; the part of the upper deck in front of the foremast.

FORETOP
The platform part way up the foremast (mast nearest the front end of the ship).

GUN DECK
Any deck on a warship that has cannons running from one end to another. The gun deck is never the weather deck, the deck that is upper-most and exposed to the weather.

HARDTACK
A hard biscuit without salt eaten by sailors when all other food runs out.

LANYARD
A short rope used to tighten the ship's rigging.

LEE
The sheltered side of the ship, the side toward which the wind blows. On a sailing ship, the lee side is lower than the weather side because the ship tilts with the wind.

MAN-OF-WAR
A warship.

MESS
A ship's dining room.

MIZZENMAST
The third mast from the front in a ship having three or more masts.

POOP DECK
A deck at the rear of a ship raised above the level of the main deck.

PORT
The ship's left side when you're facing forward.

PURSER
The officer who handles the ship's accounts.

QUARTERDECK
The part of the ship's weather deck that runs from the mainmast back to the poop.

RATTAN
A wicker cane or switch often carried by the petty officers on board a ship.

SHROUD
Part of the standing rigging of a ship.

SPAR
Any long pole used to support or extend the sails of a ship.

STARBOARD
The ship's right side when you're facing forward.

STUN'SAIL
A light sail, also called studdingsail.

TAFFRAIL
A rail running around the stern (rear) of a ship.

TAR
A nickname for sailor.

YARDARM
Either end of the pole known as the "yard" used to support a square sail.

[Billy Budd and Typee Contents]


THE CRITICS

BILLY BUDD

BIBLICAL PARALLELS AND RESPECT FOR NECESSITY

Following out the Biblical parallels that have been suggested at crucial points throughout this story, if Billy is young Adam before the Fall, and Claggart is almost the Devil incarnate, Vere is the Wise Father, terribly severe but righteous. No longer does Melville feel the fear and dislike of Jehovah that were oppressing him through Moby-Dick and Pierre. He is no longer protesting against determined laws as being savagely inexorable. He has come to respect necessity.

He can therefore treat a character like Vere's with full sympathy.

F. O. Matthiessen, American Renaissance, 1941

THE EXPERIENCE OF CHOOSING

We may say that Billy Budd is a vision of man in society, a vision of man's moral quandary or his responsibility; but its meaning is more general than these, and that is why it haunts us. So haunted, I find the work not an essay on a moral issue but a form for embodying the feeling and idea of thinking about a moral issue, the experience of facing, or choosing, of being uneasy about one's choice, of trying to know. Not a conclusion like a sermon, Billy Budd is a vision of confronting what confronts us, of man thinking things out with all the attendant confusions and uncertainties.

William York Tindall, "The Ceremony of Innocence", 1956

TRANSITION FROM PIONEER AMERICA TO COMMERCIAL CIVILIZATION

Billy Budd is an intensely modern novel. It is concerned with the coming of a materialist, commercial civilization, rational and scientific, in which society grows ever more distant from the rich overflowing of human experience. Billy harks back to a more adventurous and youthful America which, with the frontier and the whaleship, was already passing in Melville's lifetime. Billy's type comes from "the time before steamships," the significant words with which the novel opens.

Charles A. Reich, "The Tragedy of Justice in Bully Budd", 1967

AN ATTACK ON CAPTAIN VERE

It may be argued that, while both Vere and Claggart possess intelligence, Vere uses his wisely and justly. But this argument collapses when it is perceived that Vere does not do what reason would suggest in so dubious a case, i.e., jail Billy until they reach land. The real point is, of course, that Vere does not act on reason and intelligence at all, but on fear, his intelligence, instead of being a guide, is a perverted instrument. Such scenes as the confusion of the officers and the doubt of the surgeon concerning Vere's sanity make sense only when regarded as putting into issue Vere's stature and ability.

Phil Withim, "Billy Budd: Testament of Resistance", 1959

TYPEE

CONFLICTS OF THE "GENTLEMAN-BEACHCOMBER"

In the role of gentleman-beachcomber, that is to say, Melville (is)... the meditative outsider, who at the bottom of his heart does not know what world he belongs to. Instead of applying a coherent interpretative framework to Marquesan society, Melville struggles with passionate impulses and moral convictions that refuse to be ordered in a general design... In Typee the crisis of meaning is located within Melville himself: he finds his mind radically divided between horror and profound admiration for the islanders, as it is also divided between hatred for civilization and a frantic desire to return to it.

T. Walter Herbert, Jr., Marquesan Encounters, 1980

COMPARING BILLY BUDD AND TYPEE

CASTRATION AND CANNIBALISM

The real theme of Billy Budd is castration and cannibalism... After forty years Melville had returned to the theme of Typee. In that book the young hero had extricated himself from the valley by a sudden exchange of passivity for action. Billy Budd is fatally passive, his acts of violence being unconsciously calculated to ensure his final submission.

Richard Chase, Herman Melville, 1949

[Billy Budd and Typee Contents]


ADVISORY BOARD

We wish to thank the following educators who helped us focus our Book Notes series to meet student needs and critiqued our manuscripts to provide quality materials.

Murray Bromberg, Principal
Wang High School of Queens, Holliswood, New York

Sandra Dunn, English Teacher
Hempstead High School, Hempstead, New York

Lawrence J. Epstein, Associate Professor of English
Suffolk County Community College, Selden, New York

Leonard Gardner, Lecturer, English Department
State University of New York at Stony Brook

Beverly A. Haley, Member, Advisory Committee
National Council of Teachers of English Student Guide Series
Fort Morgan, Colorado

Elaine C. Johnson, English Teacher
Tamalpais Union High School District
Mill Valley, California

Marvin J. LaHood, Professor of English
State University of New York College at Buffalo

Robert Lecker, Associate Professor of English
McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

David E. Manly, Professor of Educational Studies
State University of New York College at Geneseo

Bruce Miller, Associate Professor of Education
State University of New York at Buffalo

Frank O'Hare, Professor of English
Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Faith Z. Schullstrom, Member of Executive Committee
National Council of Teachers of English
Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Guilderland Central School District, New York

Mattie C. Williams, Director, Bureau of Language Arts
Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Illinois

[Billy Budd and Typee Contents]


BIBLIOGRAPHY

FURTHER READING
CRITICAL WORKS

BIOGRAPHIES OF HERMAN MELVILLE

Arvin, Newton. Herman Melville. New York: Sloane, The American Men of Letters Series, 1950.

Gould, Jean. Young Mariner Melville. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1956. A dramatic telling of the story of Melville's early days at sea.

Howard, Leon. Herman Melville. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1951.

COLLECTIONS OF CRITICAL ESSAYS ON BILLY BUDD

Vincent, Howard P., ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Billy Budd. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971. Contains major readings, including essays by E. L. Grant Watson, William York Tindall, Richard Harter Fogle, Charles A. Reich, Warner Berthoff, and W. H. Auden.

Stafford, William T., ed. Melville's Billy Budd and the Critics. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1961. Contains the 1948 text of Billy Budd along with important essays by Phil Withim, William Braswell, Richard Chase, and Ray B. West, Jr. Also devotes a special section to conflicting discussions of characters.

OTHER CRITICAL WORKS ON BILLY BUDD AND TYPEE

Chase, Richard. Herman Melville: A Critical Study. New York: Macmillan, 1949. Brings out the mythical and symbolic aspects of Melville's major works.

Herbert, T. Walter, Jr. Marquesan Encounters. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980. Considers Typee in the context of two other 19th-century "encounters" with the inhabitants of the Marquesas Islands.

Matthiessen, F. O. "Billy Budd, Foretopman," in American Renaissance, pp. 500-514. New York: Oxford University Press, 1941. A good early reading of the book, stressing the acceptance theme. Places Melville in his historic and literary context.

Miller, James E., Jr. A Reader's Guide to Herman Melville. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1962. Takes you through Melville's major works, stressing themes.

Stern, Milton R. The Fine Hammered Steel of Herman Melville. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1968. Includes chapters on both Typee and Billy Budd. Good argument on the case for Captain Vere.

AUTHOR'S OTHER WORKS

    Omoo, 1847
    Mardi, 1849
    Redburn, 1849
    White-Jacket, 1850
    Moby-Dick, 1851
    Pierre, 1852
    Israel Potter, 1855
    The Piazza Tales, 1856
    The Confidence-Man, 1857
    Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (poems), 1866
    Clarel (long poem), 1876
    John Marr and Other Sailors (poems), published privately 1888
    Timoleon (poems), published privately 1891

A STEP BEYOND (Billy Budd)
A STEP BEYOND (Typee)


ECC [Billy Budd and Typee Contents] [PinkMonkey.com]

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