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Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  861 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Melville’s continuing adventures in the South SeasFollowing the commercial and critical success of Typee, Herman Melville continued his series of South Sea adventure-romances with Omoo. Named after the Polynesian term for a rover, or someone who roams from island to island, Omoo chronicles the tumultuous events aboard a South Sea whaling vessel and is based on Melville’s p ...more
Paperback, 374 pages
Published March 27th 2007 by Penguin Classics (first published 1847)
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Average rating 3.52  · 
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May 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
"War being the greatest of evils, all its accessories necessarily partake of the same character."
- Herman Melville, Omoo


Omoo is Part II of Melville's adventures in the South Pacific. Typee, his first book, focused on the French Polynesian island of Nuku Hiva (Marquesas Islands). Omoo starts after Melville leaves Nuku Hiva, and centers on his adventures on a whaling ship, the ship's subsequent "soft mutiny" and his imprisonment with a majority of the ship's crew on the island of Tahiti.

Brian Bess
Oct 29, 2012 rated it liked it
As Melville stated himself, Omoo is only a sequel to Typee in that it follows the events that occur to the narrator after his experience with the Typee people from his first book. Only referred to once by his nickname Typee, the otherwise unnamed narrator agrees to temporary employment on the whaling ship Julia but finds himself in the middle of a crew that is dominated by a first mate while the captain has abdicated his responsibility and retreated into his infirmity. Upon the rejection of appe ...more
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Sequel to Typee. Works less well as a story but better as a travelogue.
Shervin Ghiami
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was ok

Herman Melville is by far my favorite author, so it was without hesitation that I picked up the spiritual sequel to his first work, Typee. While Typee has a gripping narrative and is genuinely very interesting in its information, the prose of Omoo feels deliberately alienating in comparison. There is no concrete narrative, and the stories Melville tales are scattered with personal jokes which are incredibly uninteresting to the modern reader. Melville's descriptions are also vastly weaker, an
Mar 23, 2015 rated it liked it
I think the best thing about this book is that Melville unintentionally captures the scope of French colonisation in Tahiti at the time of writing. The inferences you can make about Tahitian society at the time are a lot more interesting than the actual plotline, which is slow paced and relaxing but doesn't amount to much.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I read “Omoo” a year after finishing “Typee”. I had found “Typee” to be interesting, and this sequel is that as well. Instead of being in fear of being eaten by cannibals, here our narrator is put off his ship into a very porous jail, quite possibly a precursor to a Tahitian resort hotel. After a series of episodes of travel and looking for jobs, the traveler takes to the sea again, not knowing where he will land next. The stories are told with a humor that I found ahead of its time. I appreciat ...more
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: melville, novel
I read the edition (found in my wonderful public library, Harborfields, in Greenlawn, New York) published in 1968 by Northwestern University Press and the Newberry Library. It was edited by Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker and G. Thomas Tanselle. The historical note was by Gordon Roper.
Giving stars to any book by the author of MOBY-DICK automatically trivializes the work. One must assume MOBY-DICK deserves the highest number of stars. Th
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read Omoo straight after Typee and was vastly disappointed.

While the former novel has a great narrative which keeps the reader interested, I found this second book of Melville's to be quite boring.

It reads more like a journal than a novel, if that makes sense.
What also made this harder to read was Melville's evident dislike and disdain for the Tahitian people.
While he largely extolled the mores and character of the natives in Typee, he does not share the same enthusiasm for the Tahitians. Eve
This book was part of my Melville read-a-thon. See the review on my book blog: ...more
Paul Cornelius
An unpopular, conniving sea captain on a long voyage to the South Seas. A mistreated crew filled with thoughts of vengeance. A mutiny in Tahiti. Incarceration and then an escape to another Polynesian island. Another retelling of The Mutiny on the Bounty? No, it is Omoo, Melville's sequel to his popular first book, Typee.

It begins with the narrator being rescued from the the vale of the Typees in the Marquesas and leads to an extended journey to Tahiti. Soon, the comparisons between the "noble sa
Chip Hunter
Dec 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Picking up where Typee left off, with the narrator taking leave of the Marquesas and joining the crew of a whaling ship called the Julia, the pseudo-autobiography Omoo continues the adventures of Tomas (although his name is never used in this book) as he seeks a way home. The story told in Omoo is rather less exciting than that in Typee, with nary a life-threatening experience and a general sense of calm unconcern emanating from the narrator. Things happen here, including a mutiny on the Julia, ...more
Aug 05, 2020 rated it liked it
"....and then, weary somewhat of life in Imeeo, like all sailors ashore, I at last pined for the billows."

Earlier this summer, when it became clear that the global pandemic was going to wreck our annual trip to the beach, I put away my stack of John MacDonald potboilers and instead picked this book off my long-neglected "aspirational reads" shelf.

What a perfect book for a summer in quarantine!

As expected, the book starts with a few weeks on board a whaleship in the Pacific (picking up where Typ
Tyler Jones
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-sea-the-sea
The book starts where Typee ended; our hero recently living among the so-called barbarous peoples of the Marquesas, finds himself aboard the most dysfunctional ship you have ever read about, with an ineffectual captain and a crew of reprobates ready to mutiny at the drop of a hat. Great characters, fast pacing and a wonderfully humorous tone. Midway through, the ship is left behind as the narrator takes to the islands of Tahiti. While this is still interesting, it lacks the propulsive, joyous fe ...more
David Campbell
Aug 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Distant South Pacific adventure sequel to American novelist par excellence Herman Melville’s ‘Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life’ (1846). Story picks up as the yet unnamed male lead (a quasi-autobiographical Melville) departs life among the natives on the Marquesas Islands aboard a whaling ship bound 1400 miles south by southwest for Tahiti. Text is still very much early, unpolished Melville (then a testosterone-soaked age 28), but as all that slowly washes off the deck one observes the nascent be ...more
Mar 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Omoo is certainly an improvement on Typee, which isn't by any means bad, it's just that what must have beguiled the mid-nineteenth century armchair traveler doesn't have the same punch in the 21st century. Omoo has more action and is more character driven. which is fine with me, I personally can read only so much physical description before I start to count the remaining chapters (this is all part of my quest to read all of Melville in order, having previously read Typee (in college), MD (thrice ...more
Chuck Rohde
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
I skimmed maybe 2/3 of the text due to boredom. The rest was interesting - concerning life aboard a whaler with a dysfunctional commander and also life on a Tahitian island in the 1840's where the author gives his observations on the deterioration of the island's people during the previous 40+ years of contact with Europeans and Americans, the latter mainly missionaries. Melville was anticlerical.
The Fat
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
This is honestly a pretty well written book, but I think travel literature just isn't for me. Reading this in 20-30 page bursts is fine, but it just did not sustain my interest for anything more than that. If you're really into descriptions of Tahiti circa-1840 this is the novel for you, if not, I recommend reading Melville's other works before this.
Robert Thomas
I found this book to be too deep and lengthy on the 19th century tahitian lifestyle. Melville's "Typee" had more sailing notes which are more interesting to me. Now on to a re-read of his "Moby Dick" after a long hiatus.
Mary Kelly
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lively characters with human frailty and a good sense of humor. I loved it.
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Finally. Long slog through this dated travelogue. But so much better than Moby Dick. Fictionalized account of his months in Tahiti
Jeffrey Wright
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A breezy, easy summer read, by a young author who has his life and the world before him. Urgency be damned! A meandering, autobiographical account of a stint in the South Seas, that is nevertheless entertaining, convivial, and altogether a different animal than Melville's novels.
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Omoo," a title familiar from a thousand crossword answers, picks up directly where Herman Melville's previous book, "Typee," left off. As such, it is probably best read after that one, though I don't think you will miss much if you come to this book first.

Like "Typee," "Omoo" is presented as autobiographical non-fiction. From what I've gathered, however, Melville somewhat elaborated from his personal experiences using other travel narratives, etc. Either way, it offers a fascinating glimpse of
Mar 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
'True' story of South Sea adventures told by a guy from New York. It picks up where his last left off: our protagonist narrowly escaping the inclosing hospitality of a cannibal tribe to find himself in the dubious embrace of a whaling ship. Although thankful to be rescued, the hero must contend with meager rations, an unhappy crew, a weak captain and his vindictive officers, and a dismal ship environment overrun with vermin. However dire the circumstances, the narrative remains aloof to despair, ...more
Apr 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: american-lit
The plot summary is far more enticing than the details of the book: "A failed mutiny lands the narrator in a Tahitian jail where he and his companion are treated with curiosity and kindness. After their eventual release, the two embark on a series of adventures as they work at odd jobs, view traditional rites and customs on the island, and contrive an audience with the Tahitian queen," ( Melville is certainly not short on detail when it comes to describing these events, as well as ...more
Written in typically sumptuous Melvillean prose, this book, while admittedly more plotless than Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life, was no less enjoyable to read; indeed, it was moreso at times, I felt. I imagine it was quite a daring book at the time, given that Melville does not spare the Christian missionaries from criticism. In fact, I'd say the contrast between the imported Western "progress" and autochthonous culture was a theme that pervaded the entire book.

I've worked anachronistically, st
Oct 12, 2016 rated it liked it
The conventional wisdom is correct: Typee is a much more enjoyable read. Omoo meanders and drags, and never quite finds its center the way its predecessor did. The earlier part of the book is best, when we meet the painfully and hilariously dysfunctional crew of the Julia. For a while there's some high quality tragicomedy and intrigue, but the narrative loses steam right when the crew goes ashore to Tahiti. After that, the rest of the book becomes one long slog of wandering here and there on the ...more
Paul Foley
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
It's easy to see the seeds of the marvelous Moby Dick in this novel and its predecessor, Typee. More of a straightforward sea story and far less metaphysical, these two share with Melville's most famous work an elegant philosophically-tinged writing style and a Melville's curious blend of fiction, natural history, and anthropological reportage. It's an odd, and admittedly a sometimes irritating mix. But my god, the man can write!

"So far as courage, seamanship, and a natural aptitude for keeping
Feb 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Omoo continues Melville's (semi-autobiographical) adventures from Typee. Having escaped from the cannibals of Typee, he takes part in a whaling boat strike/mutiny, spends time in Tahiti "jail" (not as bad as it sounds), escapes/is released and travels around the Tahitian islands, then joins another whaling ship.

Like Typee, Omoo is a mixture of fact and (mostly) fiction. As some critics have noted, Melville "altered facts and dates, elaborated events, assimilated foreign materials, invented epis
Mar 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2012
Listened to this from Librivox. It's fun, and I love Melville's voice here. He's got a great wit. This is still not all that recognizable as a novel, with long stretches of description of nature, trees, fruit, shoes, sand, clothing, and all manner of interactions with the indigenous islanders. Very little plot. But it's not fair, really, to hold against it the fact that Melville got so much more complicated, interesting, and brilliant in his work later on.

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Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Pick - Omoo 1 5 Oct 29, 2012 08:12PM  

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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 d

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