Melville's short stories are masterpieces. The best are to be appreciated on more than one level and those presented here are rich with symbolism and spiritual depth. Set in 1797, "Billy Budd", Foretopman exploits the tension of this period during the war between England and France to create a tale of satanic treachery, tragedy and great pathos that explores human relationships and the inherently ambiguous nature of man-made justice. Tales such as "Bartleby", "Benito Cereno", "The Lightning Rod Man", "The Tartarus of Maids or I" and "My Chimney", show the timeless poetic power of Melville's writing as he consciously uses the disguise of allegory in various ways and to various ends.
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