July 28, 2010

Herman Melville: the 'Sequel'

After dealing with allegations that his novel Typee was completely fictional, despite the author's claims that it was a true story, Herman Melville went about writing a sequel. One of the earliest references to the book which would become Omoo comes in a letter to his publisher dated July 28, 1846:

You remember you said something about anticipating the piracy that might be perpetrated on the 'Sequel,' by publishing an extract or two from it — which you said you would attend to — I meant to speak to you again about it, but forgot to do so.

Melville also notes that a "revised" edition of Typee was forthcoming, although he had a better term for this version:

The Revised (Expurgated? — Odious word!) Edition of 'Typee' ought to be duly announced — and as the matter (in one respect) is a little delicate, I am happy that the tact of Mr. [Evert] Duyckinck will be exerted on the occasion.

"Expurgated" was the correct term. The new edition of Typee included drastic changes like the removal of entire sections, most notably the entire "Appendix," and some unflattering descriptions of missionaries. But Melville inserted "The Story of Toby," the text which helped corroborate the voracity of the "true" tale.

The manuscript for Typee's sequel, Omoo, was completed by the end of 1846; the book was published in March 1847. As Melville noted in his letter, extracts were published in publications like The Literary World (edited by Evert A. Duyckinck) to whet the appetite of potential readers. Omoo is an account of Melville's experiences in the South Sea Islands after his rescue from the Valley of Typee. It was advertised as:

...the true sequel and counterpart of the author's popular production — Typee. The adventures in the present volume embrace both sea and land. The Nautical incidents of the book are extremely interesting, and the Rambles and Excursions on the Islands of Tahiti and Imeeo, most romantic and extraordinary.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your interesting article on Herman Melville! Because of his 194th birthday today I’m looking for more interesting articles about him and his writings.
    If you are interested, last year we also published a brief article on Herman Melville entitled ‘Herman Melville’s Nightmare’ in our blog at #OnThisDay in 1819, famous author Herman Melville was born. Learn more about Herman Melville’s Nightmare ‘Moby Dick’… http://yovisto.blogspot.de/2012/08/herman-melvilles-nightmare.html