Book Reviews of Billy Budd

Billy Budd
Billy Budd
Author: Herman Melville
ISBN-13: 9780451517142
ISBN-10: 0451517148
Publication Date: 10/1/1961
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

4 stars, based on 7 ratings
Publisher: Signet Book
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
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7 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Billy Budd on + 16 more book reviews
short storys by melville,very good reading
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Brief collection of some of Melville's most intriguing short stories including the ever popular Bartleby.
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Melville is a wonderful writer, and this is a classic.
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Trials of the handsome sailor. Aboard the warship Bellipotent, the young orphan Billy Budd was called the Handsome Sailor. Billy was tall. athletic, noble looking; he was friendly, innocent, helpful and ever cheerful. He was a fierce fighter and a loyal friend. All the men and officers liked him......All but one: Master-at-Arms, Claggert. Envious, petty Claggert plotted to make Billy's life miserable. But when a fear of mutinies swept through the fleet, Claggert realized he could do more than just torment the Handsome Sailor.....He could frame Billy Budd for treason.....
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Includes Melville's stories: Billy Budd, The Piazza, Bartleby, Benito Cereno, The Lightning-Rod Man, The Encantadas, The Bell-Tower, and "The Town-Ho's Story" from Moby Dick.
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A review from
"Billy Budd" is an allegory of a young seaman who strikes and kills a superior officer when the officer's cruelty and treachery become unbearable. The focus of the story is the debate over whether to execute the seaman (Billy Budd) for his crime. With passionate and terrifying logic, Melville (through the voice of Captain Vere) demonstrates that human perfection is impossible - not because we humans are weak, but because perfection simply does not and cannot exist in this world. To make decisions based on our notion of "divine justice" is not only impractical and foolhardy, according to Melville, but even immoral.

If you like to think of yourself as an idealist, then reading this book will leave some unanswered questions in your mind, possibly for the rest of your life. I first read this story more than thirty years ago, and it still affects the way I think about almost everything to this day.
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Also contains The Piazza Tales: The Piazza; Bartleby; Benito Cereno; The Lightning-Rod Man; The Encantadas, or Enchanted Islands; The Bell Tower. Plus The Town-Ho's Story from Moby-Dick.