This is the final work of American author Herman Melville (1819-1891), discovered amongst his papers three decades after his death and published in Raymond Weaver's 1924 edition of "The Collected Works of Melville." The emergence of what some consider to be Melville's masterpiece sparked a revived interest in the forgotten writer, despite the complex and incomplete nature of the manuscript. This is the first of many attempts to piece together and refine the sometimes illegible text, which included questionable additions and omissions made by Melville's wife after his death. The story stemmed from Melville's interest in an 1888 article called "The Mutiny on the Somers," concerning three sailors who in 1842 had been convicted of mutiny. Billy Budd is a navy sailor accused of mutiny by a fellow officer, and immediately strikes his accuser dead, followed quickly by a trial, conviction and execution. The novel presents several different versions of the events, organized by Weaver into...

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