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Typee, A Captive Of Cannibals

Updated on August 15, 2014

Captured By Cannibals

Do you know that one of the most famous authors the world has ever known was once held captive by a tribe of cannibals? His most popular book has been translated into almost every language on earth, is required reading in many high schools and has been made into movies and television mini-series starring the Hollywood elite. His work has been made into graphic novels and even cartoons. Yet today, most of his work has been forgotten. His first book was a best seller that is almost completely unknown today while his world wide success is based exclusively on a book that was a failure in it's day. Can you guess who it is?

Which Author Was Captured By Cannibals?

Do you know which author was held captive by cannibals?

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The Man Who Lived Among The Cannibals

Cannibals

Source

Nuku Hiva

I'll give you one last clue to the author's identity. In recent years, 2011 in fact, a German tourist was killed and eaten by cannibals on the very same island where our mysterious author was held captive, Nuku Hiva. You can read all about it by following the link below. The authors name was Herman Melville, famous for writing the sea epic Moby Dick.

Read This Masterpiece

Marquesas Islands

Marquesas Islands
Marquesas Islands

And The Mysterious Author Is....

Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick. When most of us think of Melville we think of an old man with a giant, bushy beard but we you might be surprised to discover that he was in fact an adventurous young man.

Typee is credited with inspiring other great authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson, my personal favorite, Jack London, and Australian author George Lewis Becke. In London's Cruise of the Snark, Jack references Typee directly, expecting to see exactly what Melville had described in this wonderful account of the South Pacific islands.

Beautiful Native

Beautiful Native Girl
Beautiful Native Girl

Typee

Written in 1846, Typee was Herman Melville's first novel and, while not a true biography, it still draws heavily from his real life experiences of being captured by a Nuku Hiva cannibal tribe and held against his will. Melville, and another crewman were captured by the tribesmen after they jumped ship and fled to what they thought was freedom and safety.

Oddly, Melville was actually very well treated by the Islanders who seemed to think of him as some kind of prize pet. While Melville's fellow castaway managed to escape sooner than Melville himself, the author finally did manage to gain his liberty in a daring and violent episode worthy of any Indiana Jones movie. Because of this, Melville was known publicly as The Man Who Lived Among The Cannibals.

Typee was a bestseller when it was released although it's authenticity was largely called into question for several years until Melville's fellow captive, Richard T. Greene, appeared to corroborate the details.

Abandon Ship

Abandon Ship
Abandon Ship

On the Lamb

On the Lamb
On the Lamb

Escape

Escape
Escape

A Review Of The Book Typee

Years ago, as a boy, i read Moby Dick and found it to be a bit of a grind. The experience soured me on Melville and so I neglected to try any of his other works for decades. After reading Typee I realize how much time I wasted and quickly began devouring everything written by this talented author. The most striking aspect of Herman Melville's writing is the humor. His sharp, dry whit is obvious and he has earned his seat at the head of the table were I granted the wish of inviting anyone I wanted to dinner.

Melville is an excellent example of how a writer can manipulate and entertain us with his talent. Even when he wanders 'off topic' we are still thoroughly engaged because his writing is just that good. I am convinced that Melville could have made the list of ingredients on a can of soup a good read.

In Typee, the protagonist, Tommo (Melville's alter ego), has the almost surreal experience of being a captive in paradise, where he is treated like an honored guest. He is served great food and allowed to do anything he likes. His movements are barely restricted, the bars of a prison being replaced by the dense jungle and, reportedly hostile tribes of headhunters surrounding them.

Added to which, he falls in love with a beautiful, island girl who returns his affections wholeheartedly. Take me to a prison like that any day! He is liked and respected by all and his life is an endless summer of ease and plenty.

And yet, he can't help but harbor a growing fear that he may be playing the part of a thanksgiving turkey, slowly being fattened up for a future meal. But all the while his hosts remain as cordial as can be. Even after Tommo's companion escapes their clutches, the tribes people never say a cross word or offer an act of unkindness to Tommo.

Typee is an excellent book that will excite you and make you laugh with almost every page. It is my favorite work by Herman Melville and everyone should take the time to enjoy it.

Have you read Typee by Herman Melville?

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Native Girl

Native Girl
Native Girl

Robert Louis Stevenson

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    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      That's good news. :)

    • GetitScene profile image
      Author

      Dale Anderson 3 years ago from The High Seas

      Well I aint stupid enough to go to an island full of man-eating cannibals! ;)

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      ROFL. But you're the one with the boat!!

    • GetitScene profile image
      Author

      Dale Anderson 3 years ago from The High Seas

      Come on, don't be a sissy! Go to the island. There's only a slim chance you'll be eaten by cannibals ;P

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Oh, I hope that's one island you'll be staying away from on your travels, GetitScene! I quite like the idea of reading the book ... but I followed the link to the newspaper article about the German tourist who visited a few years ago and I'll need time to get that awful image out of my mind before I read the novel.

      Voted your hub up though, and sharing it. Thanks for the review. :)

    • GetitScene profile image
      Author

      Dale Anderson 4 years ago from The High Seas

      I LOVE this book. It's wry, exciting and never gets dull for even a moment. It's so hard to believe that this book was written by the same person that penned Moby Dick.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      I also found Moby Dick to be a bit of a grind, so you can imagine my curiosity about "Typee, A Captive of Cannibals". I do recall hearing about it, but have never picked it up myself. I'm going to get on Amazon right now and find out how to obtain a copy. Thank you!

    • GetitScene profile image
      Author

      Dale Anderson 4 years ago from The High Seas

      Puh-Leeze read Typee, it's one of my favorite books of all time and I'm certain you will enjoy it (asnd you can get it on Kindle for free). I thought of Melville as a stodgy old grump before that book and now I think he would be the most fun dinner guest of all time. Thanks for coming by!

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I'm glad I read this review, because I didn't know that Melville had been captured by cannibals. Now I'd like to read his book, TYPEE.

      It's amazing that both Melville and the other crew member escaped from the cannibals, especially as they did so at different times. Your comment that he felt as though they might be fattening him up like a "Thanksgiving turkey" made me shudder. Can you imagine how it would feel to think you might be destined to be a meal for cannibals?

      Voted Up++

      Jaye