Typee is Herman Melvilleâ€™s first book, recounting his experiences after having jumped ship in the Marquesas Islands in 1842, and becoming a captive of a cannibal island tribe. It was an immediate success in America and England, and was Melvilleâ€™s most popular work during his lifetime. It was not until the end of the 1930â€™s that it was surpassed in popularity by Moby Dick, more than thirty years after his death. The story provoked harsh criticism for its condemnation of missionary efforts in the Pacific Islands. Many sought to discredit the book, claiming that it was a work of fiction, but this criticism ended when the events it described were corroborated by Melvilleâ€™s fellow castaway, Richard T. Greene, who appears in the story as the character Toby.
Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 â€“ September 28, 1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick. His first three books gained much contemporary attention (the first, Typee, became a bestseller), but after a fast-blooming literary success in the late 1840s, his popularity declined precipitously in the mid-1850s and never recovered during his lifetime.
When he died in 1891, he was almost completely forgotten. It was not until the "Melville Revival" in the early 20th century that his work won recognition, especially Moby-Dick, which was hailed as one of the literary masterpieces of both American and world literature. In 1919, the unfinished manuscript for his novella Billy Budd was discovered by his first biographer. He published a version in 1924, which was quickly acclaimed by notable British critics as another masterpiece of Melville's. He was the first writer to have his works collected and published by the Library of America.
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