Judy's Reviews > Billy Budd, Foretopman

Billy Budd, Foretopman by Herman Melville
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May 11, 12

bookshelves: childrens, fiction, 2012-reads
Read on May 11, 2012 — I own a copy

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 foretopman at the age of nineteen (I believe) finds himself conscripted to the Indomitable and away from his happy employment on a merchant vessel. As with his previous vessel, he is the perfect soul and well-liked by the officers and crew alike. There is a cheesy sense of too-perfect young man here. Of course, something upsets the apple cart in the form of an officer, Claggart, who is jealous of Billy's perfectness. He sets him up for a fall and that is where the book finally takes off and becomes somewhat interesting. Melville does an excessive amount of analyzing the motives of Claggart, the perception of people in regards to Billy, etc. Melville also obsesses about Billy's perfect appearance and how it made people love him. I felt this put undue emphasis on something that few children can change drastically. I almost put the book down and screamed, but it was only 126 pages with lots of illustrations of perfect Billy, so I went ahead and finished it.
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Reading Progress

05/11/2012 page 80 "Surprisingly, I'm having a hard time with Melville. Its difficult for me to picture children enjoying this book with all the philosophizing. If it didn't have drawings for children in it, I wouldn't believe it was a children's book!"

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