Billy Budd is Herman Melville's most read work after Moby-Dick. Melville wrote the novella during the 5 years before his death, and it was published posthumously in 1924. The essays collected here provide a multifaceted introduction to the work. Areas investigated include nineteenth-century political and social dynamics and the literary response they provoked, as well as the relevance of mythology and the histories of classical world and Judaeo-Christian civilization to Melville's book. Also examined are Melville's later writing, including the late poetry, the text's development, and its ambiguities. This collection will prove an invaluable resource for students of this major American writer.