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Omoo 1st.jpg
First edition title page
Author Herman Melville
Country U.S., Britain
Language English
Genre Semi-autobiographical novel
Publisher John Murray, Harper Brothers
Publication date
30 March 1847
Preceded by Typee
Followed by Mardi

Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas (1847) is the second book by American writer Herman Melville, and a sequel to Typee. Both books are based on Melville's own experiences. After leaving Nuku Hiva, the main character ships aboard a whaling vessel which makes its way to Tahiti, after which there is a mutiny and the majority of the crew are imprisoned on Tahiti.


In the Preface to Omoo, Melville claimed to have written "from simple recollection" strengthened by his retelling the story many times before family and friends. Yet a scholar working in the late 1930s discovered that Melville had not simply relied on his memory and went on to reveal a wealth of sources.[1] Later, Melville scholar Harrison Hayford made a detailed study of these sources and, in the introduction to a 1969 edition of Omoo, summed up the author's practice: "He had altered facts and dates, elaborated events, assimilated foreign materials, invented episodes, and dramatized the printed experiences of others as his own. He had not plagiarized, merely, for he had always rewritten and nearly always improved the passages he appropriated." Hayford showed that this was a repetition of a process previously used in Typee "first writing out the narrative based on his recollections and invention, then using source books to pad out the chapters he had already written and to supply the stuff of new chapters that he inserted at various points in the manuscript."[2]

Publication history[edit]

The book was published first by John Murray in London on March 30, 1847. In the U.S. a portion was printed on April 24, 1847, in The Literary World, with a complete edition released by the Harper Brothers on May 1 of that year.[3]

Murray included both Typee and Omoo in his "Home and Colonial Library" which was marketed and sold as a collection throughout the British Empire. In it, Melville was listed together with other well-known writers, an event that turned out to be an important watershed for both his sales and reputation. "Over the decades Melville's presence in the library insured the fame of his first two books with two or three generations of English readers all around the world."[4]


  1. ^ Anderson, Charles Roberts (1939). Melville in the South Seas. 
  2. ^ Parker p. 455
  3. ^ Miller, Perry (1956). The Raven and the Whale: The War of Words and Wits in the Era of Poe and Melville. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company. p. 203. ISBN 0-8018-5750-3. 
  4. ^ Parker p. 510.


Parker, Hershel (1996). Herman Melville: A Biography (Volume 1, 1819-1851). Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-5428-8. 

External links[edit]