Billy Budd, an orphaned, illegitimate child suffused with innocence, openness, and natural charisma, has been impressed into service aboard the HMS Bellipotent. He is adored by the crew, but for unexplained reasons arouses the antagonism of the ship's Master-at-Arms John Claggart, who falsely accuses Billy of conspiracy to mutiny. Set in 1797, Herman Melville's Billy Budd exploits the tension of this period during the war between England and France to create a tale of satanic treachery, tragedy and great pathos that explores human relationships and the inherently ambiguous nature of man-made justice.More
"Billy Budd has excited the most admiration and commentary of any work by Melville except Moby-Dick. It has the translucence and the loose weave of last works. A lifetime sifts into it. Whenever Melville ventures onto shipboard, the reader feels the deck beneath his feet." (John Updike)
"In this last of Melville's works, published posthumously, the author dramatized the clash between natural goodness and innocence as personified by Billy Budd, and unprovoked evil as embodied in Claggart." (Masterpieces of World Literature)
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- Elmer Sklue