Billy Budd, Sailor, and Other Stories Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0553212747
ISBN-10: 0553212745
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  • Length: 322 pages
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Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards.

From the Inside Flap

If Melville had never written "Moby Dick, his place in world literature would be assured by his short tales. "Billy Budd, Sailor," his last work, is the masterpiece in which he delivers the final summation in his "quarrel with God." It is a brilliant study of the tragic clash between social authority and individual freedom, human justice and abstract good. Melville also explores this theme in "Bartelby the Scrivener," his famous story about a Wall Street law clerk who takes passive resistance to a comic--and ultimately disastrous--extreme; and in "Benito Cereno," his dazzling account of oppression and rebellion on a nineteenth-century slave ship. Completing this collection of great tales are the eerie "The Encantados," the beautiful, romantic "The Piazza," and Melville's chilling science fiction parable, "The Bell-Tower."

Product Details

  • File Size: 797 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Classics; Reissue edition (August 29, 2006)
  • Publication Date: August 29, 2006
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000JMKR66
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,439 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Authors really have a hard time avoiding the fact their stories nearly always mirror their most closely guarded personal concerns. But the writers who care deepest about the messages they're sending are usually the hardest hit. "Billy Budd, Sailor, and Other Stories"--a Penguin Classic pairing of both well-known and comparatively obscure short stories by America's ultimate "writer's writer"--details the immense artistry, messianic eccentricity and wounded vanity of a deeply troubled man who toiled--unsung, ridiculed--long before his time ever could have come.
This particular collection, refracted as it is by a heartfelt introduction by contemporary American author Frederick Busch, highlights both author and character in alienated reserve in the well-known "Bartleby, Scrivener"; exhibits the writer's knowing infatuation with the great satires of Swift and allegories of Milton in "The Paradise of Bachelors and Tartarus of Maids" and "The Encantadas"; his obsession with the interplay of virtue and pragmatism in "Billy Budd, Sailor"; and reveals even prophetic intonations in a story about race, "Benito Cereno." Some seem little more than amusing studies, but even the least in this collection testifies to Melville's eternal ability to astonish and take your breath clean out of your body. Indeed, Melville's shorter work reveals just how far he was from the day's critical appraisal of him as an unsuccessful writer of mere adventures that simply didn't fit the bill.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this collection because it contains one of my favorite stories, "Bartleby, the Scrivener". It might be the first story about the modern day worker :) What do you do when confronted with someone who suddenly refuses to conform to societal expectations? What if this person will not lift a finger to help himself? Whose responsibility does he become?
Maybe we each have a breaking point, some boundary beyond which the spirit would rebel and scream "I have received enough neglect and I won't take it anymore!" If I ever reached that breaking point, would my cries also go unanswered?
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Format: Paperback
This book is what I use in my Melville unit in High School. I highly recommend it to the novice to Melville's work.

"Bartleby the Scrivener" brings out the important irony of American life, that most people do not want you to tell the truth. When asked why he didn't do the work assigned, Bartleby answered truthfully and it kills him. How often does that happen in American life?

"Benito Cereno" shows the duplicity of the American Slave trade. And it shows that the ethics of the slave trade also depend on a lie.

"Billy Budd" shows that the first casualty in war time is the truth. And this dealing with liars and the truth and the immutable truth that the law without judgment is itself unjust.

Get this collection for your library.
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Format: Paperback
The nearby review by "brothersjuddotcom" is excellent, and will introduce you to many of the issues and opinions on this text. However, there is one more issue that I would like to draw attention to. Melville is concerned in "Billy Budd" with the human capacity for malevolence: doing evil for the sake of evil.
Some other 19th-century American authors like Emerson and Thoreau have fairly "sunny" views of human nature. Melville (along with Poe and Hawthorne) thought it was dangerous to ignore the other side of being human. In particular, Melville wants to address the question, Can a person do evil just for the sake of being evil?
Why does Claggart hate Billy Budd so much? Jealousy may be part of it, but that could not explain the depth of his hatred. Claggart is simply pure evil. His evil is motivated by nothing but the love of evil itself. Melville wants us to see that people like Claggart are a real possibility. And those who, like Billy Budd, are "innocent" will be helpless in the face of such evil.
If these issues interest you, you can pursue this topic through Poe's great short story, "The Black Cat," and St. Augustine's _Confessions_, especially "Book II" (really a chapter in length).
The other great story in this anthology is "Bartleby, Scrivener." It seems, on the surface, to be merely a story about mental illness. A clerk starts to simply refuse to do his work, until he cannot care for himself any more, and is committed to an insane asylum. But this is not a story only about depression. The key of the story is that Bartleby once worked in the "dead letter" department of the post office.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Melville and I have a complicated relationship. He was undoubted brilliant and a great writer. His work is much deeper, and more complex and nuanced than it often appears on the surface of a first reading. The enjoyment of reading Melville is for me personally in the subsequent analysis of it. The reading of it, however, (for me) feels like slow and deliberate torture. I often beg and plead for him to get the point. Sometimes it seems he goes on and on saying the same thing, or mundane details that seem irritatingly dry and irrelevant -- of course on further examination it is purposeful, but that is not always initially apparent until I go back and ask what the point was. I would therefore characterize Melville as a challenging read, rather than an enjoyable read; but a valuable read --well worth the time and effort, if the reader is so inclined to read beneath the surface.

This is a nice collection, and I look forward to returning to it to read some of the selections which I did not this time. (Melville in small doses for me).
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