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Herman Melville, in his Typee, has given an account of the singular and interesting people among whom the principal characters, Tommo, was thrown. Melville has in fact, made use of his own vast experiences on sea, in his novels. Before 1851, Melville had published five novels. Typee was published in 1846 and it is an account of Melville’s own story of his adventures in the South Seas. His later novels too go along on similar veins. Omoo is a description of mutinies, Mardi is an allegorical romance, while Redburn is a description of Melville’s Liverpool voyage. White Jacket gives authentic description of abuses in the navy and its repercussions.
In his accounts of his ravages, Melville chiefly treats of their more obvious peculiarities, and in describing their customs, refrains from entering into explanations concerning their origin and purposes.
Melville also has given little degree of attention to dates. Having lost all knowledge of the days of the week, he hopes that the reader will charitably pass over his shortcomings.
Certain episodes related in the narrative have not been explained by the speaker, with the plea that it is due to lack of knowledge of their language. This is also so because the author himself had not fully comprehended the episodes, and so was unable to make his speaker comprehend it. He has merely stated what has occurred, leaving the reader to form his own opinion, trusting that his desire to speak the unvarnished truth will at least gain him the confidence of his reader.
Herman Melville has written his first novel Typee is based on his own experiences at the Nukuheva Island. Melville had been aboard their ship "Acushnet," when he and his friend Richard Tobias Greene decided to take their informal leave from the ship and plunged into an adventure in the valley of Typee.
The Marquesas had the reputation of being the most beautiful islands on the face of the earth. However, being distant and difficult to transverse, this place was seldom visited.
The first European entered the Marquesas Islands in 1595, when the Spanish explorers, under the command of Alvaro de Mendara visited the Southern Islands. These explorers managed to kill a number of islanders. Mendara named the group of islands "Las Marquesas de Mendoza," after his patron, Garcia Hurtado de Mendoza, Marquis of Canate, who was then the Viceroy of Peru.
After this, the islands were left alone for a while since the Western exploration of the South Seas was a slow and difficult process. The wide expanse of the Pacific with the widely scattered nature of the islands added to the difficulty in reaching these islands.
However, by the early nineteenth century, the Western ships, which were sailing for commercial as well as political reasons, began visiting the Marquesas Islands. These islands were rich in sandalwood and the breadfruit trees promised food for these explorers. They were also good harboring places for whaling ships to rest and resupply their stocks.
In 1842, trouble arrived in Nukuheva in the form of six French warships. They were under the command of Rear Admiral Du Petit-Thouars and he claimed the islands of King Louis Phillipe of France.
Thus on account of the destruction of the island’s culture by western commerce and western religion, and the reduction in population by hunger and disease, this paradise on Earth could not last beyond the century.