This unique introduction explores Herman Melville as he described himself in Billy Budd-"a writer whom few know." Moving beyond the recurring depiction of Melville as the famous author of Moby-Dick, this book traces his development as a writer while providing the basic tools for successful critical reading of his novels. Using the extraordinary "Agatha" correspondence with Nathaniel Hawthorne as a key to Melville's writing practices, beliefs and inclinations, the volume introduces Melville as a writer who constantly reflected on his craft and experimented with new forms and genres.
Arranged chronologically, the volume focuses on Typee, Moby-Dick, and Billy Budd, as well as other novels, short fiction, and poems as appropriate, to explore Melville's distinctive narrative style. A biography, summaries of key works, interpretation, commentary, and an extensive bibliography are all included.