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Download Billy Budd Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Billy Budd Audiobook, by Herman Melville Click for printable size audiobook cover
2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 2.00 (6,996 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Herman Melville Narrator: Stefan Rudnicki Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2009 ISBN: 9781455195800
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Billy Budd, an orphaned, illegitimate child suffused with innocence, openness, and natural charisma, has been impressed into service aboard the HMS Bellipotent. He is adored by the crew but for unexplained reasons arouses the antagonism of the ship’s master-at-arms, John Claggart, who falsely accuses Billy of conspiracy to mutiny. Set in 1797, Billy Budd 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.

Melville’s stories are masterpieces to be appreciated on more than one level. They are rich with symbolism and spiritual depth and 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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Quotes & Awards

  • Billy Budd has excited the most admiration and commentary of any work by Melville except Moby-Dick. It has the translucence and the loose weave of last works. A lifetime sifts into it. Whenever Melville ventures onto shipboard, the reader feels the deck beneath his feet.”

    John Updike

  • “Reaches straight back into the universal, to a blackness and sadness so trancending our own that they are undistinguishable from glory.”

    E. M. Forster

  • “No library, public or private, that professes to represent English literature should be without it.”

    John St. Loe Strachey

  • “In this last of Melville’s works, published posthumously, the author dramatized the clash between natural goodness and innocence as personified by Billy Budd and unprovoked evil as embodied in Claggart.”

    Masterpieces of World Literature

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Clif Smith | 2/19/2014

    " There is so much to this short work that I could go on for days talking about it. Great story, characters, symbolism, theme, etc. One of the best I have ever used in the classroom. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lady Danielle aka The Book Huntress | 2/16/2014

    " I like the Christ metaphor, but I found this one dry and hard to read. I had to force myself to get it read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 L.R. Green | 2/3/2014

    " It's so confusing and hard to understand! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kaley | 1/30/2014

    " Worst fucking novella ever. Fuck you, Melville. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Phyllis | 1/13/2014

    " This book was introduced to me as the quintessential moral quandary. Supposedly, Budd engaged in mutiny and the captain/admiral was forced to decide whether to administer the appropriate punishment, which was death, despite the fact that Billy was incredibly popular. But his popularity was what made him dangerous. Sounds good, right? I just could NOT care about any of these people. If I remember right, I couldn't even understand what Budd had supposedly done wrong. So this book could not answer for me the fundamental question all books must answer: "who cares?" (The answer should be, at least, "me!") "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 1/9/2014

    " A caveat about this book -- I read it for my Law and Literature class. I might have quit on the book if I didn't have some background on the history for the time, as it gave me a framework to work with. Basically, there is a lot of background in the early chapters, but then it all makes sense once you get to the end. This seems like the type of book that would get better with multiple readings as there is a lot of stuff going on that you might miss at first blush. Luckily, the book is pretty short. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Justyna | 1/7/2014

    " I enjoy Melville's verbose style, but some of his descriptions just go on and on. Overall, not a bad story, though I doubt I'll re-read it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laurele | 12/29/2013

    " This little book has intrigued me for years. There's much to think about here. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sydney Sage | 12/6/2013

    " We had to read this for English class... The most boring book ever! :( "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jeanette | 12/1/2013

    " I am not a Melville fan, and I didn't care for this story. The only reason it gets two stars is because I had such an excellent college professor who took us through this, so I at least got something out of it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Newengland | 11/20/2013

    " In high school, we read this in lieu of Moby Dick because it was shorter. Hang it all, there's apparently more than meets the aye-yi (sir), but it was lost on us! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kimberly | 11/9/2013

    " I just read this last year- I don't know what I was waiting for. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Julia | 10/30/2013

    " All I remember about this book is that I was forced to read it for class and didn't like it at all. Met Scott in that class, though. So that was good. :) "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jaren | 10/16/2013

    " A whole lot of tell in this little tale. Melville manages to stir for only the last twenty or so pages. The manuscript needed editing, but Herman up and died. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Emily | 7/21/2013

    " It was really hard and confusing. There is a lot of symbolism, but I wasn't able to pick it up on my own. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Becky | 7/12/2013

    " In his usual style, Melville continually kept my brain working by using numerous historical, biblical, and mythical allusions. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tricia | 4/18/2013

    " I am reading this book for my English honors class. Very good, great vocabulary. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Frank | 4/10/2013

    " I just can't warm to anything by Melville, it seems -- with the only possible exception if Bartleby. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Chelsea | 11/6/2012

    " I read this as part of a Humanities course on Law and Language. I do not remember being particularly blown away; was happier reading Cabeza de Vaca. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sarah | 10/17/2012

    " Ugh. I can still remember sloughing my way through discussion after discussion of this boring, and I mean BORING, story during high school English. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stacy | 8/6/2012

    " Moby Dick is one of my favorite novels, and I think the technical writing (and period prose) were much easier on my ears in the grand setting and plot of Ahab and the Whale. Here, I got gobbled by the text, but will enjoy reading this again some day. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rachel Rogers | 6/10/2012

    " School assignment when I was in middle school. HATED IT! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alejandra | 12/3/2011

    " Very difficult to get through when I read this in High School. In fact, everybody hated it but given that I don't remember too much about it I may give it a second try. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 James MacIntyre | 5/4/2011

    " An enjoyable parable, with Billy-as-Christ easy to see. But the prose if often far more difficult than needed. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Nicole | 4/20/2011

    " Well, it certainly does SUCK. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Chelsea | 4/4/2011

    " Emily was right. Booooo Billy Budd booooo "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kerri | 3/24/2011

    " WTF did I just read. No clue what happened. Thank god the last chapter had a quick sum up of events. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Luke1992 | 3/21/2011

    " Wish I could've given it a 3.5 "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jack | 3/7/2011

    " Interesting Insites into navel history.
    library book sale. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 2/19/2011

    " Reading Project Gutenberg, and too lazy to create a new book to prove it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jim | 2/14/2011

    " This book was left uncompleted at the time of Melville's death. It is not in the same league as Moby Dick. Melville was not particularly successful as a writer, and this book tends to show that. Perhaps he only had one truly great book in him. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kevin | 2/3/2011

    " I laughed when there was a heated discussion in one episode of The Sopranos about this book. Not one of my favorites, but not terrible, either. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gen50 | 1/31/2011

    " a wonderful classic, i cried
    then i cried again in the movi3 version "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Demosthenes | 1/1/2011

    " The worst punishment I could imagine my hell to be is reading this book. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Katharine K | 1/1/2011

    " if i could give it a lower score i would "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cheryl | 12/24/2010

    " Much more digestible than Moby Dick. "

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About the Author
Author Herman Melville

Herman Melville (1819–1891) was born in New York City. Family hardships forced him to leave school for various occupations, including shipping as a cabin boy to Liverpool in 1839—a voyage that sparked his love for the sea. A shrewd social critic and philosopher in his fiction, he is considered an outstanding writer of the sea and a great stylist who mastered both realistic narrative and a rich, rhythmical prose. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumously published novella Billy Budd.

About the Narrator

Stefan Rudnicki first became involved with audiobooks in 1994. Now a Grammy-winning audiobook producer, he has worked on more than three thousand audiobooks as a narrator, writer, producer, or director. He has narrated more than three hundred audiobooks. A recipient of multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards, he was presented the coveted Audie Award for solo narration in 2005, 2007, and 2014 and was named one of AudioFile’s Golden Voices in 2012.