Billy Budd, Sailor

Narrated by: William Roberts
Length: 3 hrs and 34 mins
Categories: History, World
3.5 out of 5 stars (435 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Written some 40 years after Moby Dick, Melville's Billy Budd is a moving tale of good versus evil. Set aboard a British navy ship at the end of the eighteenth century, a young, innocent sailor's charm and good nature put the men around him at ease. Ship life agreed with Billy. He made friends quickly and was well liked, which infuriated John Claggart, the ship's cold-blooded superior officer.

Mutiny was a continual threat greatly feared by naval officers. Even minor offences were dealt with harshly to keep crews in their place, regardless of whether the accused was guilty or innocent.

The envious Master-at-Arms becomes obsessed with the destruction of the 'Handsome Sailor' and torments the young man until his false accusations lead to an eventual charge of treason against Billy.

Public Domain (P)2000 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd.

What listeners say about Billy Budd, Sailor

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A good reading of a classic story

I had to read "Billy Budd" for a senior seminar class in college, and this audiobook version worked great for me. The narration of this version is a little dry, but then there are other versions where the quality is simply dreadful to say the least.

As many may already know, there are various copies of Billy Budd (BB: Foretopman, BB: Sailor, etc.) because Melville never published the novella in his lifetime. However, I listened to this audiobook while reading along with the Norton Critical Edition of Billy Budd, and the changes were hardly distinct (except for the name of the ship Indomitable vs. Belipotent and an added paragraph towards the end of the novella).

Anyway, I've listened to this audiobook 4 times since I bought it, and it's a great version in my opinion.

56 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Captivating

Such beautiful language. New respect for Melville, master of the complexities of the human heart.

19 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Need chapter markers not violins

Some passages required me to refer back to the written version. This audiobook is presented with only three chapters, not the chapter markers that the author intended. Instead of chapter markers there was nice string music interspersed in odd spots.

21 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Billy Budd, Sailor, written by: Herman Melville, Narrated by: William Roberts. This is a magnificent story of a good wholesome and loved by many Billy Budd, and how his nature fuses with the drastic life on a sea ship at the end of the 18th millennium. Billy is an impressed sailor who faces off with a ship’s first officer, antagonistic to Billy because of Billy’s goodness and appreciation by others. This book tells the story of the debased ravaging the pure; because of incarnate evil, lodged herein, in the first officer, John Claggart. The presence of the devil is a strong force in this novella.

Billy is eventually put under false charges, and reacts violently. Thus, Billy becomes unfairly charged, but being properly prosecuted for his violent reaction when unfairly charged. Needless to say, the crew is in Billy’s favor, but the book next weights the need of the admiralty law to prevail and keep order and the crew’s demand for true and proper justice.

A short novel, with multitudes of character interactions, deep seated conflicts in right and wrong, justice and equity and the disregard of those in control for the common man. All that counts is keeping those in power in authority.

Great little story.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Awesome

I like the way Billy Budd was presented. I also like the way the story was fluent and not confusing. I did not like how long the chapters were.🙁

I would recommend this to my entire family, friends, my book club!

I chose this rating because of how cool, well written, amazing well read, and overall fantastic the book was!!!!

15 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Melville's Last Classic

As delightfully dense and poetic as Melville's other work, Billy Budd is a commentary on law and order, military command, the British policy of impressing merchant sailors into military service, and the human spirit. Unlike the 138 chapters of Moby Dick, this audiobook can be consumed in a little over 4 hours. Authentically Melville, it's Victorian in style, yet it lacks the extended tangents and long back story chapters that characterize Moby Dick. Perhaps as Melville aged he combined his dexterity with words with a certain efficiency born of experience or a need to finish the story before his time ran out. Predictably heavy work from one of the true masters of English prose.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Why the music?

This is one of my favorite books by Melville. The reader was good, but the musical interludes detracted from the overall performance to the point of making me consider returning the book without finishing it. Really, it was absurd--the music was so overwrought that it turned a good, sad story into a ridiculously maudlin one! If the music hadn't been included, this would have been a 4-star performance.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great classic

Wonderful story, yet tragic at the same time. I'm revisiting this tale after 30 years, and it's better the second time. I highly recommend it.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A little dated but still a classic

I enjoyed the book. The class references seem a little ridiculous now, about things that could not be grasped by the different strata on the ship. But this is inevitable in a classic. Overall I enjoyed it.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Metaphors for Days

I've got to say that I, personally, am not a fan of the way Herman Melville wrote this. Chalk full of extremely dense sentences, contemporary references I don't know, and entire sections of non-sequiturs which a modern editor would have made him chop.
Billy Budd is basically the perfect guy if a bit simple. He's beautiful and friendly and everyone likes him except for the guy that doesn't due to a genetic defect of character. That guy, also a good looking guy who, aside from his crappy police officer type of job and the aforementioned character defect, accuses our Christ figure in front of the captain. Billy reacts by getting so tongue-tied that he slugs the "cop". The cop naturally dies. Now we get to the meat of the story, in the post-trial monologue scene. Here the captain must convince the officers/jurists that regardless of how awesome Billy is and how sketchy that other guy may have been, Billy's got to go down for the crime he committed.
They hang him.
There's some light follow-up afterward but basically, the act of hanging Billy didn't earn anyone karmic credits.
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