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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Billy Budd by Herman Melville

This is not a novel that can be judged by length or the picture on the cover. It looks simplistic and straight forward, but it is anything but. This is actually a surprisingly tough read at times. Melville puts a vast deal of energy into developing characters. Less time is spent in dialogs, and this may be hard for some readers to follow at times.

Billy Bud is young, and innocent, quiet but kind. He is well liked except for those few that are jealous of him, and his ability to boost morale through his quiet gentleness. Those that are jealous of Billy are unseated by his seemingly flawless looks and personality. Billy is human however, and Melville reminds the readers of this by inserting a few character flaws in Billy. He stutters when overwhelmed, or becomes completely tongue tied. He also lashes out violently when this occurs.

I couldn't give this novel an excellent rating because it took me longer to read this 90 page novel than it usually takes me to read a 400 page novel. I had a tough time following Melville's constant leaps from place to place and from time to time. This is a novel with a great story line, and I have a feeling that I would have enjoyed it more if I had simply skipped Melville's sections of over explanation and simply read the story. I feel a story loosing something very important when the reader must read someone else's over-analization. Having said all of this, I know I still took something away from this read, and would recommend this novel to anyone with one warning: "When Melville starts to over explain, skip a few paragraphs and start reading again. Chances are, you won't have missed too much. You can always go back and read those paragraphs later if you feel you needed them."

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