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Herman Melville and those nice cannibal people of Typee

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In 1840 Herman Melville is 21 years old and is looking for adventure. So he signs up with the whaler Acushnet and on 1st January 1841 sets sail from New Bedford bound for the sperm fishery of the Indian Ocean.

But the ship's captain is not a nice chap, so Herman and his only chum aboard the friendless vessel, Richard Tobias (Toby) Greene, decide to jump ship at the island of Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands.




The captain allows the crew to go ashore but gives them a friendly warning that the island is the home of the Typee tribe of gourmet cannibals that like to dine on human flesh.

'You may only be third-rate sailors to me', he tells them, 'but to a Typee you're a first-rate second course'.

Choosing their moment the pair of deserters make their move and head for the interior in search of the more friendly and non-human eating Happar tribe.




But the island is a jungle labyrinth, with the valley of the Happar adjacent to that of the Typee.

Suddenly the absconders come…