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Mardi: and A Voyage Thither, Vol. II

Herman Melville

Book Overview: 

Mardi is Melville's first purely fictional work. In it he contemplates man's beliefs, and questions whether or not one faith has value over another--or is it all simply a sham? Mardi is a poetically existential analysis of religious truths as told through the protagonist's allegorical wanderings across the South Pacific. But is this all that Mardi is?

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .In Oro's name, what ails you, philosopher? See you Paradise, that you look so wildly?"

"A Happy Life! a Happy Life!" cried Babbalanja, in an ecstasy. "My lord, I am lost in the dream of it, as here recorded. Marvelous book! its goodness transports me. Let me read:—'I would bear the same mind, whether I be rich or poor, whether I get or lose in the world. I will reckon benefits well placed as the fairest part of my possession, not valuing them by number or weight, but by the profit and esteem of the receiver; accounting myself never the poorer for any thing I give. What I do shall be done for conscience, not ostentation. I will eat and drink, not to gratify my palate, but to satisfy nature. I will be cheerful to my friends, mild and placable to my enemies. I will prevent an honest request, if I can foresee it; and I will grant it, without asking. I will look upon the whole world as my country; and upon Oro, both as the witness and the judge of m. . . Read More

Community Reviews

A tale of two novels/novel of two tales (or one tale and a mad, polyphonic spree)

This may well be the craziest book I've ever read...the first 160pp or so is a quite stimulating sea yarn which ends rather abruptly, when the protagonists land on a south sea archipelago.

In the remaining 400pp the narr

This is the most torn I've yet been about one of Melville's works. I liked it, but then I also didn't, and if I'm to give it a rating, I think I've finally landed uncomfortably in the middle. On the one hand, the plot rings all too familiar: man jumps on boat with destination in mind, man runs away,

MEDIA (to Abrazza).--Be not impatient, my lord; he'll recover presently. You were talking of Lombardo, Babbalanja.

BABBALANJA.--I was, your Highness. Of all Mardians, by nature, he was the most inert. Hast ever seen a yellow lion, all day basking in the yellow sun:--in reveries, rending droves of ele

I think it would take me a year to extol the virtues of this epic creation by the author of MOBY-DICK. All I can say is:
Find the version edited by Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker and G. Thomas Tanselle. That should not be difficult to find, because it is included in the Library Of America's Herman

When I decided to read all of Melville's novels, this stood out as a great and tedious hurdle to be crossed: long and long-scorned. But the more material I read on it, the more it seemed to be waiting for its proper audience. I approached it with low hopes, but this last thought proved so correct th

Beginning as another of Melville's traditional Polynesian tales--and thus picking up where Typee and Omoo left off--Mardi transforms after the first one hundred pages into something philosophically symbolic (think Gulliver's Travels) and then something politically allegorical. It shouldn't work--and

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