Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life Background

Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life Background

Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life is a 1846 work of travel literature by Herman Melville. Typee was both Melville’s first book and his most popular during his lifetime.

Typee is a blend of fiction and nonfiction which has frustrated critics for over a century and a half. While much of the material comes from Melville’s own experiences being held captive by natives in the Marquesas Islands just four years prior, much of the material also consists of exaggeration and fabricated accounts and descriptions.

Furthermore, Melville has often been criticized for reinforcing racism towards and stereotypes about native populations in the South Pacific. These accusations have turned Typee into a controversial text in regards to its portrayal of the “cannibals” and “noble savages” with whom the narrator was living.

Typee was followed by a second text by Melville regarding his experiences in the Pacific. Published the year after Typee, Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas is a similar work of travel literature which focuses on Melville’s departure from Nuku Hiva and his arrival at Tahiti after a mutiny aboard the ship.

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