Herman Melville

Billy Budd, Bartleby, and Other Stories
  • Billy Budd, Bartleby, and Other Stories

  • Herman Melville

    Though best-known for his epic masterpiece Moby-Dick, Herman Melville also left a body of short stories arguably unmatched in American fiction. In the sorrowful tragedy of Billy Budd,Sailor; the controlled rage of Benito Cereno; and the tantalizing enigma of Bartleby, the Scrivener; Melville reveals himself as a singular storyteller of tremendous range and compelling power. In these stories, Melville cuts to the heart of race, class, capitalism, and globalism in America, deftly navigating political and social issues that resonate as clearly in our time as they did in Melville's. Also including The Piazza Tales in full, this collection demonstrates why Melville stands not only among the greatest writers of the nineteenth century, but also as one of our greatest contemporaries.

    This Penguin Classics edition features the Reading Text of Billy Budd, Sailor, as edited from a genetic study of the manuscript by Harrison Hayford and Merton M. Sealts, Jr., and the authoritative Northwestern-Newberry text of The Piazza Tales.

Herman Melville was born in New York on 1 August 1819. He first went to sea at the age of nineteen on the St Lawrence which sailed from New York to Liverpool. He later worked as a teacher before taking to the seas again in 1841 on the whaleship Achushnet. After six months of sailing in the Pacific, Melville abandoned ship and lived among the natives of the Marquesas Islands for several weeks. This experience inspired his first book Typee (1846) which was published to great success. The sequel, Omoo, was published in 1847 and later that year Melville married Elizabeth Shaw. He published several other novels and poems, including his most famous work, Moby-Dick (1851), but his later works were not widely appreciated until long after his death. Moby-Dick is now considered one of the most important American novels of all time. Melville died on 28 September 1891.