Typee (originally subtitled A Peep at Polynesian Life) catapulted Melville to fame at the age of 27 upon its pub. in 1846. Ostensibly a novel, the story is based on the author's four-month sojourn with a group of South Sea Islanders, the Typees. Initially the two Americans are charmed & fascinated by the exotic life of the Typees -- their physical beauty, the regal bearing of their warriors, the gracefulness of their women -- & embrace their food & customs. And yet the land of the Typees is not quite paradise: the two men are guests who may not leave, & gradually they learn of customs of a more chilling nature, making their escape from this tropical paradise a necessity.