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Herman Melville's first book Typee is a blend of creative memoir, cultural commentary, and good story telling. Melville recounts and elaborates on his experiences among the Typee cannibals on the French Polynesian island of Nuku Hiva (Marquesas Islands) in 1842. Typee ended up being Meville's best-selling book during his lifetime, no doubt due to both his skill as a writer mated with his romantic story of life among Polynesian savages.
The book flows nicely and balances between the chasms of cultural superiority & nobel savage worship that can easily dominate these types of books. Reading this made me think of similar types of long-form journalism that catch fire in our day (Junger to Theroux to Conover to Vollmann). While approachable, it isn't Melville's best work, but shows early signs of motifs that would show up later in Moby-Dick, Billy Budd, etc.
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The narrator does a wonderful job with this minor classic. Part novel, mostly travelogue, and full of charming descriptions and turns of phrase.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful