Billy Budd, Sailor
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Billy Budd, Sailor

3.03 of 5 stars 3.03  ·  rating details  ·  8,829 ratings  ·  472 reviews
Listeners will be captivated by this moving tale of good versus evil through the life of winsome young sailor Billy Budd. Aboard a 1700s British warship, virtuous Billy is unfairly accused of treason by the villainous Master of Arms--a cold-blooded superior officer intent on Billy's destruction. Adapted from Herman Melville's famous novel and presented by Focus on the Fami...more
Audio Cassette, Abridged, 0 pages
Published June 1st 2002 by Tyndale Entertainment (first published 1924)
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Rob
Aug 19, 2007 Rob rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone desperate to close a book and yell "I get it, Christ-figure!"
Shelves: high-school
Dear High School Curriculum Writers:

I am positive that you can find a better novel than this one to use when introducing symbolism and extended metaphor to developing readers. "Christ-figure" is the most over-used of these extended metaphors; over-used to the point where its offensiveness ceases to be about the in-your-face religious aspect of it and becomes instead about the simple over-use of the symbols. If you want to "go there" with symbolism and metaphor and have high school age kids the w...more
Marcus
Billy Budd adds to the evidence in Moby Dick that Melville was a master of the English language and a master of all things nautical. It's a great, short tale of good, evil and the sometimes harrowing injustice of circumstance. It was fascinating to see in Melville's last work, the dramatic difference in his earlier writing and the style of Billy Budd. For example, comparing two completely random sentences, first from Typee:
In the course of a few days Toby had recovered from the effects of his ad
...more
Jesse
I had hoped that during the time that has lapsed between having had to read this and Moby-Dick or, The Whale as an undergraduate and now I would have warmed up a bit more to Melville, who along with Dickens holds the dubious distinction as being my least favorite "canonical" authors.

No dice. I found this just as difficult to read and even more difficult to sustain any kind of interest in, and was most grateful for the relative brevity of Billy Budd, especially as Melville's writing style can ch...more
Judy
I feel like I should ask forgiveness for allotting only two stars to a Melville, but I felt adrift while reading Billy Budd, Foretopman. Perhaps, children, for whom this book was written, were more acclimated to reading books awash with philosophy about working relationships aboard a Royal Navy vessel, but I see few children in today's world tuning into this story.I had a hard time tuning in until more than halfway through...

Billy Budd aka The Handsome Sailor, orphan, and already a seasoned fore...more
Jason Koivu
Melville, what are you about man? That's just too much telling for the story's own good!

In Billy Budd, Sailor we have what could've been a grand, character-driven swashbuckling adventure. However, Melville apparently wanted to write about sailing and the early navy, and must have felt he needed to throw in a story to justify the book. The two subjects needed to merge more seamlessly for this to work. Otherwise two separate books should have been published, a treatise and a tale, for they are two...more
Riku Sayuj
I buy none of the characters Melville, and that is a first with you. The story is there though and it was a good adventure story - Sir Walter could have told it better, and that too is a first with you. But, despite the cribs, the foretopman and the motley crew will stay with me, but not for the telling.

Adieu, Rights of Man! No irony intended, only Paine! Or not.
Darwin8u
Reading 'Billy Budd' left me thinking of David Foster Wallace and his unfinished novel The Pale King. Both are unfinished literary works that -- despite their roughness (and yes incompleteness) -- seem to suggest or hint that if given time/space/temperament, etc., Melville and Wallace could have produced works equalling their respective magna opera. Both are full of a confident stillness that hint at a genius between the words and a soul and art floating just under the text.

Is Billy Budd a grea...more
Laura
From BBC Radio 3 - Drama on 3:
The playwright Keith Dewhurst adapts Herman Melville's powerful story of persecution and retribution in the aftermath of the Naval Mutinies at Nore and Spithead in 1797. He also tells the story of the man who wrote it. Part of Radio 3's Britten centenary weekend, this play provides an alternative context to Britten's opera, which is also being broadcast on the station. Herman Melville was a man who himself had more than a passing acquaintance with mutiny. There was
...more
Sandra
Una trama semplice e lineare: siamo nel 1797, a bordo di una nave militare britannica. Un giovane marinaio, Billy Budd, viene forzatamente arruolato al servizio di sua maestà britannica in un periodo di turbolenze e ammutinamenti conseguenti agli effetti della rivoluzione francese. Il giovane, benvoluto da tutto l’equipaggio per la sua indole allegra e pacifica, viene accusato dal maestro d’armi Claggart di ammutinamento. Il capitano Vere predispone immediatamente un tribunale militare che lo gi...more
Alex
Billy Budd, another in Melville's oeuvre of nautical tales of gay passion, is shorter than his masterpiece and not as rewarding. The problem is that it's kindof boring and not much happens.

It was Melville's last work, and he never really finished it - he just left a ton of scribbles and sketches and conflicting drafts kicking around - and maybe that's why it feels like a bit of a mess: because it literally was, before various people tried to stitch it together.

Your basic story is that there's th...more
James
Fantastic book. Melville is such a sophisticated writer/observer of the human condition. Nothing seems to escape his eye. In this short but extremely powerful tale, we see what happens when resentment and institutions come together as forces of fate to destroy the naive embodiment of innocence--Billy Budd. You also learn something about the psychology of living on a ship and what it was like during the height of the mutiny scares back at the turn of the 18th century in the English navy. You woul...more
David Stephens
Melville's late masterpiece, Billy Budd, recounts the tragic tale of the eponymous sailor. That is, it recounts what little tale there is to tell. The narration and descriptions waver back and forth so much as if caught in a breeze at sea that, at times, it becomes difficult to tell whether there is any narrative at all. This, of course, isn't a bad thing as Melville's writing is superb: "In fervid hearts self-contained, some brief experiences devour our human tissue as secret fire in a ship's h...more
pierlapo  quimby
Bello, ma che strano che proprio Melville, così attento alle allegorie, si sia fatto scappare un controfinale coi fiocchi: la ciurma si ammutina dopo aver assistito all'esecuzione della 'giustizia del Re' dispensata dal Capitano Vere, il quale morrà per questo e non per una banale pallottola vagante, dovrà esser travolto da un'orda di marinai indemoniati e stravolti dalle ultime parole pronunciate dal bel Billy, ancora penzolante dal pennone dell'albero maestro.
A quel punto la potenza simbolica...more
Matthew
Billy Budd is one of those extremely rare examples of a movie that is better than the book. Melville's original fails to take advantage of a book's natural ability to get inside the heads of its characters and, in so doing, gives up the advantage that books so traditionally have over their film adaptations. Instead, he wastes pages and pages on irrelevant physical descriptions which, of course, are taken care of in a split second when presented on screen.

The details of the story are presented e...more
John Keats
Make sure you get the definitive text; it corrects a lot of earlier errors. It's sad that Melville continues to be as misunderstood in death as he was in life--not that I claim to understand him completely. But if you see the Hayford and Sealts edition, and note the development in drafts of the tale, Melville's plan seems, at least to me, pretty admirable, and excellently realized, even if it wasn't completely finished. (I know the stuff they'll find in my desk drawer when I croak can't hold a c...more
Beth F.
This book stunk.
Andrea
So short, yet so very plump with taxing digressions, long-winded commentary, and mortal doses of Biblical references.

A couple of examples:

For what can more partake of the mysterious than an antipathy spontaneous and profound such as is evoked in exceptional mortals by the mere aspect of some other mortal, however harmless he may be, if not called forth by this very harmlessness itself?

And here be it submitted that apparently going to corroborate the doctrine now popularly ignored, it is observa
...more
Rhonda
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
wally
Billy Budd, Herman Melville, 1st published 1924

There may be variations of Billy Budd available. This story was found and published after Melville’s death. He hadn’t finished it. In one instance, the name Bellipont was used, instead of the name of the ship that is used in the text I have, Indomitable.

Excellent story. Even unfinished--I can’t imagine what more Melville would have done with it--most telling. I can’t for the life of me figure why Billy Budd is a Christ figure--he is repeatedly compa...more
Ben
My perception of this work has changed for the better upon a reread. The first time I read this I wrote: I expected more when I read the book; it is considered a classic. I found the character development and the plot unfulfilled, but I suppose this is to be expected to some extent, considering that it was unfinished at the time of Melville's death. I felt similarly about Fitzgerald's 'The Last Tycoon.' I do still hold these views to some extent but I can appreciate the work more now for what it...more
Ashleysmith10
This stands out as one of best punishments my parents ever doled out. We had to read this in high school over Christmas break. I just so happened to get grounded at the same time. My mom decided that I would be ungrounded when I finished this book. It's about 100 pages (so really short), and since we were on break from school I had literally nothing but time on my hands. It still took me 3 days--seriously--with nothing else to do to get through this. When we returned to school, I was one of 2 in...more
Andrew
One of those books that a lot of people read in high school, but I never quite to. And while I would have liked it as a 16 year old, it's now, after educating myself on the continental European avant-garde, that I think I can see Melville for what he really was: our Kafka.

Billy Budd is a... nice guy... who runs afoul of the wrong people to run afoul of. And gets effed. And Melville can tell this with ironic detachment, and make clever jokes about the Enlightenment while he's at it. Books like th...more
Writer's Relief
BILLY BUDD is a novella by Herman Melville that, despite being unfinished, is considered one of the American writer’s most important works.

The prose is a bit dense and the sentences lengthy, with lots of heavy philosophical tangents. However, this is arguably Melville at his best: He mercilessly critiques social and religious order without hiding behind lofty metaphors like so many other authors of his day, lambasting the Church and military officials alike.

To an extent, BILLY BUDD is also a gre...more
Carey Combe
Not for me...
Artemisia
Billy Budd, sailor (an Inside Narrative) è un testamento, ma anche un requiem – è una musica di accompagnamento per un certo, preciso rituale, applicato a più persone. L’autore, il protagonista e le cause del suo destino. Il racconto vede la sua genesi tra il 1886 e il 1888, ma è nel 1891 che viene terminato: fu il lavoro che, insieme alla rilettura dei suoi libri, accompagnò Melville nella sua morte. È dunque una raccolta delle sue ultime volontà letterarie, ma anche una riflessione sui temi de...more
Steven
Although I approached it with a bit of trepidation, as there were, to me, obscure passages in "Moby Dick" that I was either dumbfounded by or just found dull. One particularly lengthy section involving the anatomical and skeletal makeup of whales could've been edited to a paragraph or two for me. However,this novella held my interest very well, despite some sporadically baffling seafaring and military references pertaining to its time and setting. The story of Billy Budd is now considered a clas...more
Amber
Oh dear, the ranting on school forced books continues....

Don't get me wrong. I love to read. I started a reading circle where we share books at school. I even turned a friend who was one of the "ill wait for the movie" kind of people into someone who is now calling me up everyday to discuss recently read books. But when it comes to reading books for school, I can never seem to get through them. I've never finished more than one full book for school, unless read out loud in class.

"Class, you're i...more
Guido
A questo punto, Herman Melville era in pensione. Quasi quarant'anni prima, dopo i primi successi letterari ottenuti grazie ai resoconti dei suoi viaggi nelle isole del Pacifico, la critica e il pubblico lo avevano progressivamente abbandonato, e le recensioni dei lavori successivi (compreso il titanico sforzo di Moby Dick) erano spesso condite di commenti come questi:

"...se non vorrà prestare più attenzione ai suoi componimenti in futuro, è molto improbabile che l'annuncio di un suo nuovo lavoro...more
Gale
A MARITIME CONSIPIRACY OF SILENCE

Set in 1891 Melville’s quiet melodrama remains a literary enigma, although scholars have poured over this story (which may have been published in a less than finalized format.) Well liked, cheerful and almost godlike in appearance Billy Budd, a foretopman, is peaceably
“impressed” from the merchant ship, RIGHTS OF MAN—a common occurence during the turbulent years of Ships of the Line. But once aboard his new berth all his "rights" are stripped; he falls victim t...more
Feliks
Looking over other reader's experiences with this book makes me--as usual--a bit depressed at the state of 'reading culture' today. If you can call it that; its more like the reading/webpage surfing/movie-downloading culture.

Look. Think for a moment about the historical period in which this book was penned. Think about the generations of audiences that later admired it. Think about the timespan that ensued; while that remained constant. Consider how long this title had to keep proving itself. Me...more
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1624
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. His first two books gained much attention, though they were not bestsellers, and his popularity declined precipitously only a few years later. By the time of his death he had been almost completely forgotten, but his longest novel, Moby-Dick — largely considered a failure during his lifetime, and most responsible for...more
More about Herman Melville...
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Bartleby, the Scrivener Benito Cereno Billy Budd and Other Stories Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life

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“Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blendingly enter into the other? So with sanity and insanity.” 120 likes
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