Typee: A Romance of the South Seas – Herman Melville
Typee was Melville’s first book, originally published in London in 1846. Even today it is an absolute classic in travel and adventure literature and is partly based on the author’s actual experiences on the island Nuku Hiva in the South Pacific Marquesas Islands. Of course there is still room for a lot of imaginative reconstruction and adaptation of material from other books. Typee was Melville’s most popular work during his lifetime.
Typee: A Romance of the South Seas.
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Some background on Typee (from Wikipedia):
Typee is “in fact, neither literal autobiography nor pure fiction”. Melville “drew his material from his experiences, from his imagination, and from a variety of travel books when the memory of his experiences were inadequate.” He departed from what actually happened in several ways, sometimes by extending factual incidents, sometimes by fabricating them, and sometimes by what one scholar calls “outright lies”.
The actual one-month stay on which Typee is based is presented as four months in the narrative; there is no lake on the actual island on which Melville might have canoed with the lovely Fayaway, and the ridge which Melville describes climbing after escaping the ship he may actually have seen in an engraving. He drew extensively on contemporary accounts by Pacific explorers to add to what might otherwise have been a straightforward story of escape, capture, and re-escape. Most American reviewers accepted the story as authentic, though it provoked disbelief among some British readers.
Two years after the novel’s publication, many of the events described therein were corroborated by Melville’s fellow castaway, Richard Tobias “Toby” Greene.
(The text of the last section was taken from a Wikipedia entry and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)
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