Typee, in full Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life, first novel by Herman Melville, published in London in 1846 as Narrative of a Four Months’ Residence Among the Natives of a Valley of the Marquesas Islands. Initially regarded as a travel narrative, the novel is based on Melville’s monthlong adventure as a guest-captive of the Typee people, natives of the Marquesas Islands (in present-day French Polynesia), following his desertion from the whaler Acushnet along with shipmate Richard Tobias Greene in July 1842. Melville injured his leg in the escape from the Acushnet, and Greene was allowed to leave the Typees to find Melville a doctor, but he became sidetracked and never returned. Shortly thereafter, Melville was rescued by the Australian whaler Lucy Ann.
Typee is an anthropological study of an exotic and savage native culture that both impressed and frightened Melville (the Typees were allegedly cannibals). The protagonist of the novel, Tom (also known as Tommo), spends four months with his companion, Toby, in a Polynesian island paradise as prisoners of the Typees. Tom’s opportunities for escape are limited by his disease-swollen leg and by his personal jailer-servant, the devoted Kory-Kory. He befriends several natives, notably the beautiful Fayaway. Tom is intrigued by their social and religious customs, but he is also disgusted by their indolence and cannibalism. Ultimately, he chooses “civilization” over idyllic island life.
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Herman Melville: Wanderings and voyages…subject of his first novel,
Typee(1846). In July Melville and a companion jumped ship and, according to Typee, spent about four months as guest-captives of the reputedly cannibalistic Typee people. Actually, in August he was registered in the crew of the Australian whaler “Lucy Ann.” Whatever its precise correspondence…
Nuku Hiva…setting for his first novel,
Typee(1846). Area 131 square miles (339 square km). Pop. (2017) 2,951.…
French Polynesia, overseas collectivity of France consisting of five archipelagoes in the south-central Pacific Ocean. Included are some 130 islands scattered across the Pacific between latitudes 7° and 27° S and longitudes 134° and 155° W—a total land area roughly equivalent to that of metropolitan Paris and London combined but…
Cannibalism, eating of human flesh by humans. The term is derived from the Spanish name (Caríbales, or Caníbales) for the Carib, a West Indies tribe well known for its practice of cannibalism. A widespread custom going back into early human history, cannibalism has been found among peoples…
Herman MelvilleHerman Melville, American novelist, short-story writer, and poet, best known for his novels of the sea, including his masterpiece, Moby Dick (1851). Melville’s heritage and youthful experiences were perhaps crucial in forming the conflicts underlying his artistic vision. He was the third child of…