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Fictional narrative by Melville, published in 1846. It is based on the author's experiences when he deserted the whaler Acushnet (1842).

Tom and Toby desert their whaling ship because the poor food, hard work, and tyranny of the captain have become unbearable. They take refuge with the peaceful Typee savages on a Marquesas island. When Tom falls sick, Toby seeks aid and through misadventure is shipped aboard a vessel bound for the U.S. Left alone with the Typees, Tom makes sharp observation of the social, religious, and moral standards of the natives. Tom enjoys the idyllic life with Fayaway, a native belle, and is aroused from his pleasant captivity of three months only when the tribe insists he be tattooed and when he fears the cannibals may turn from eating Happars to eating white men. He finally escapes on an Australian trading vessel. A second edition (1846) containing some deletions and revisions prints a sequel telling the story of Toby's safe return.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Herman Melville (1819—1891) American novelist and short-story writer

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