Typee | Study Guide

Herman Melville

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Course Hero. "Typee Study Guide." Course Hero. 2 Apr. 2018. Web. 22 Sep. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Typee/>.

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Course Hero. (2018, April 2). Typee Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 22, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Typee/

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Course Hero. "Typee Study Guide." April 2, 2018. Accessed September 22, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Typee/.

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Course Hero, "Typee Study Guide," April 2, 2018, accessed September 22, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Typee/.

Typee | Preface | Summary

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Summary

According to the narrator, three years have passed since the following story took place. The narrator claims that "sailors are the only class of men who now-a-days see anything like stirring adventure" and thus he thinks his story about his time in the company of sailors will be of interest to a general audience. He states that he has omitted certain basic details about the people he lived among during his adventure, such as "explanations concerning their origins and purpose." The narrator also admits that he cannot relate any of the dates of his adventures, as he lost both time and the ability to measure it while he was gone.

The narrator explains that he has spelled the Polynesian words in the book phonetically, with the intent of conveying their pronunciations and sounds to the reader. Additionally, the narrator warns the reader that his story does not always portray missionaries in a good light, and that he is only relaying the facts as he experienced them. The narrator concludes that though the reader might find some of the information in the story strange and difficult to believe, the narrator had these same reactions to events. He trusts that readers will form their own opinions about events.

Analysis

The preface is written in first person by the same narrator who tells the remainder of the story. The timeline of the book takes the perspective of looking back on the experiences of the narrator and the subsequent writing of the book. This point of view might lead readers, especially at the time the book was written, to assume that the book is autobiographical, though readers now know that it is a mixture of Melville's autobiographical account and fiction. Because the narrator warns the reader about what is to come, the preface reads like a response to literary criticism of Typee. However, it also works to pique the reader's interest in the tale.

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