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Billy Budd, Sailor and Selected Tales (Anglais) Broché – 26 février 2009


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Présentation de l'éditeur

`Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges.' So wrote Melville of Billy Budd, Sailor, among the greatest of his works and, in its richness and ambiguity, among the most problematic. As the critic E. L. Grant Watson writes, `In this short history of the impressment and hanging of a handsome sailor-boy are to be discovered problems as profound as those which puzzle us in the pages of the Gospels.' Outwardly a compelling narrative of events aboard a British man-of-war during the turmoil of the Napoleonic Wars, Billy Budd, Sailor is a nautical recasting of the Fall, a parable of good and evil, a meditation on justice and political governance, and a searching portrait of three extraordinary men. The passion it has aroused in its readers over the years is a measure of how deeply it addresses some of the fundamental questions of experience that every age must reexamine for itself. The selection in this volume represents the best of Melville's shorter fiction, and uses the most authoritative texts. The eight shorter tales included here were composed during Melville's years as a magazine writer in the mid 1850's and establish him, along with Hawthorne and Poe, as the greatest American story writer of his age. Several of the tales - Bartleby the Scrivener, Benito Cereno, The Encantadas, The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids - are acknowledged masterpieces of their genres. All show Melville a master of irony, point-of-view, and tone whose fables ripple out in nearly endless circles of meaning. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

Biographie de l'auteur

Robert Milder is Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He is editor of Critical Essays on Melville's `Billy Budd, Sailor' and the author of Reimagining Thoreau.


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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 464 pages
  • Editeur : Oxford Paperbacks (26 février 2009)
  • Collection : Oxford World's Classics
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 9780199538911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199538911
  • ASIN: 0199538913
  • Dimensions du produit: 19,6 x 2,5 x 13 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 19.859 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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Par marie-élise le 19 juillet 2014
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
je connaissais plus Billy Budd par Britten que par Melville et j'ai été enchantée de découvrir l'histoire originale ; prodigieux évidemment
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3 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Uneven, but the high points sing. 17 avril 2013
Par Diplocaulus - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Like any collection of short stories, there are good and not-as-good pieces here. Melville's writing is fairly impeccable, excruciatingly precise—sometimes it borders on fanatical—but perfect style does not always lead to a great story.

I know that some of the short stories found in this book are considered classics of the form, but oddly enough, the ones most often cited as "classics" did not impress me. Both "Bartleby" and "Benito Cereno" left me with a shrug, "Bartleby" especially because it lacked the gorgeous prose that Melville usually employed. They were not as forgettable as some of the stories in this collection ("The Fiddler" and "I and My Chimney"), but nothing I would savor reading again. "Bartleby" is just too straight-forward, and "Benito Cereno" is kind of a mess. The latter is one of those stories where the second half explains what was going on in the first. By then, I'd figured it out and it seemed redundant and ham-fisted. "Benito Cereno" also rides a line of ambiguity when it comes to some issues (namely race) which a modern reader might be more sensitive to—so much so that I really couldn't figure out how Melville wanted the reader to feel about the story's black slaves. (Further research only emphasized that ambiguity, showing different takes on the story's meaning since the time it was published. Maybe that ambiguity is to the story's credit, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.)

Two of the stories in the collection are fairly comical: "Cock-a-Doodle-Doo!" and "The Lightning-Rod Man." I can imagine people in the 1800s reading these stories in the magazine they were published and being amused. The first takes some swipes at transcendentalism, the other at fire-and-brimstone preaching. But like "The Fiddler" and "I and My Chimney," they're not part of the American literature canon for a reason.

The maritime tragedy "Billy Budd" was kind of a surprise to me. Melville, frustrated with how people received his prose, spent decades writing only poetry. The manuscript to "Billy Budd" was found after his death, a secret return to prose. I was pretty astonished by how thick Melville's prose was in this story. Usually his writing is pretty dense and requires the reader to slow down, but this was beyond even his norm. Often I had to read sentences aloud to understand. I got lost in many of them, and I would have to decide to re-read it, or just soldier on. It was something of a return to the symbolism and allegory of "Moby Dick," but the density made it difficult to really relish and enjoy.

I did, however really enjoy two of the stories in this collection, the first of which was "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids." Here Melville compares the horrible disparity between the lives of rich male lawyers and poor women factory-workers in 1800s London. The language is evocative, emotional, and clever.

But by and far, my favorite story was "The Encantadas," where Melville seamlessly weaves personal experiences and fiction around the Galapagos islands. His descriptions of the barren islands are beautiful and rich, infused with philosophical ruminations and giant tortoises. Although he spends the first half of the novella describing the islands and providing small anecdotes, he turns the second half away from the landscape and tells some longer Galapagos stories, the best of which involves a woman shipwrecked and surviving on the island alone. More than anything else in this collection, "The Encantadas" still lingers in my mind, calling to be revisited.
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Billy Budd - Handsome is as Handsome does 22 juillet 2013
Par David Fowler - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Melville's novella, Biily Budd, is a classic - so rich with symbolic power one hardly is able to make "sense" of it all or have it "fit" into any one (or two) well wrapped, tidy, boxes. The narrative is simple enough to be sure, but it's the symbolic resonances, innumerable, like the sun glistening off individual waves on the sea, that makes it hard to really put this book down and move on. Its most basic theme is the undoing of innocence - a theme that clearly has metaphysical levels, but equally well relates to Melville's own life and struggles. It's a wonderful work to sit and think about (never really to be "done" doing so) and just a plain good 'ol sea yarn as well. Highly recommended not only as an "easy" entry-point (in terms of style) into Melville's literary universe, but for its own unique luminosity.
Undramatic yet Rewarding Reading 4 octobre 2014
Par Bubo - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
I enjoyed these tales very much. Beautiful, erudite English mixed with apt and timely references (for its time) to the Western tradition together with half-ironical, half-satirical, heavily idiosyncratic narration made for highly pleasurable reading although I admit to completely glossing over and misreading The Encantadas and Benito Cereno which are too heavy and convoluted (and historically particular) for my relatively meagre reading skills.

Some of these tales were so evocative and well portrayed that I could almost imagine the narrator's English or South American accent, as the case may be, and even when not seizing the text in its entirety rather than its parts, the aptly painted story-telling ensured that I never felt it to be too much of chore reading the book fully over a three day period (with large breaks).

Some of the tales are more akin to vignettes and half-humorous, half-satirical short stories (The Lightning-Rod Man, Cock-A-Doodle-Do), some, more difficult, (such as the aforementioned Enchanted Isles and Benito Cereno), are more fantastical and wordy.

Billy Budd is the main attraction of this book, featured last and the longest by a margin, and it is very much a tale which, in Hannah Arendt's (and consequently my own) reading depicts in no few words Good (innocence), Evil (manipulation) and Justice (virtue)and the interaction between them, each side represented respectively by Budd The Handsome Sailor himself, Claggart the Master-At-Arms and Captain Vere.

Before approaching this book it is worth bearing in mind that these short stories are not twist heavy or particularly exciting and edge of your seat reading; their charm lies precisely in their simple (yet sophisticated) voice and scene-setting which allows for escapism of a more thoughtful and meditative kind, while never leaving behind harsh realities and bleak truths.

I recommend this book to those who want a taste of nineteenth vignette painting of the first rank, which never takes itself too seriously or portentously, and readers who wish to flex their reading muscles with prose that is elaborately and richly woven.

Four stars and a half is my average for this book - four because I think the book is good but not great for its many dry and elusive spells, five because in the right mood and frame of mind, the whole is a highly rewarding and enriching read.
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