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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

Wow this is a pretty difficult work, much elevated from Typee and Omoo. The critiques of the book, boring, unreadable, ponderous, are valid to an extent. However there are several areas which merit further study, and perhaps have already been picked apart by the Melville industry.
First, the book...more

For once, reviews contemporary with a book’s publication are right even now: it starts well, but sinks into obscure philosophical unreadability less than half way through. The prose may be elevated, the thoughts may be deep, but who really cares? I love Melville so I will simply pretend I never r...more

my least favorite melville, he worked so hard on the allegory, he forgot to add a PLOT.

A historian, poet, philosopher (and others) set sail for adventure, romance, allegory. Vol. 1 is dull. Vol. 2 is intermittently amusing.

Peaks and troughs abound in this one. At times, I found myself deeply engaged by Melville's ruminations on metaphysics, religion, and politics--mainly through his philosopher character Babbalanja--yet at others, I was inclined to either nod off at best, or tear the book to pieces at worst. These...more

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...more

"Ay, plenty of dead-desert chapters there; horrible sands to wade through." - chapter 180; spoken of a 'fictional' book that sounds suspiciously similar to Mardi itself.

Mardi has many good things. It has an interesting sea story for the first 1/4th of the text. It has some very astute and thought.../>

In the authors own words
"...And so is Mardi itself: nothing but episodes; valleys and hills; rivers, digressing from plains; vines, roving all over; ...and here and there, fens and moors.
...Ay, plenty of dead-desert chapters there; horrible sands to wade through."

I've prev...more

This one is for Melville completists only. I may have had ambitions to fit in that category myself, but I just couldn't finish Mardi. I made it about halfway out of devotion to Melville and a personal interest in some potential parallels to the Book of Mormon, but neither factor was enough to car...more

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--...more

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