Melville, Herman

| 1968

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Herman Melville drew upon his experiences as a sailor in the South Seas for this 1847 work. Omoo takes its title from a Polynesian term referring to a rover--someone who wanders from island to island, as Melville did over a three-month period. Resuming his narrative where Typee left off, the author recounts his rescue from an island of cannibals by a British whaler. When the ship's disgruntled crew stages an unsuccessful mutiny, the narrator finds himself--along with the mutineers--imprisoned in a Tahitian jail. There, he and a companion, Doctor Long Ghost, are treated kindly by the curious, amiable natives. After their release, the two men travel about the region, experiencing a series of adventures as they observe traditional rites and customs, work at odd jobs, contrive an audience with the Tahitian Queen (it is a dismal failure), and note the disturbing influences of the missionaries...

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