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Publisher's Summary

"The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles" is a novella by American author Herman Melville. First published in Putnam's Magazine in 1854, it consists of ten philosophical "Sketches" on the Encantadas, or Galápagos Islands. It was collected in The Piazza Tales in 1856. The Encantadas was a success with the critics, and contained some of Melville's "most memorable prose". An anonymous narrator unites the ten disparate "Sketches", each of which begin with a few lines of poetry, mostly taken from Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene. All of the stories are replete with symbolism reinforcing the cruelty of life on the Encantadas. "Sketch First" is a description of the islands; though they are the Enchanted Isles they are depicted as desolate and hellish. "Sketch Second" is a meditation on the narrator's encounter with ancient Galápagos tortoises, while "Sketch Third" concerns the narrator's trip up the enormous tower called the Rock Rodondo. "Sketch Fourth" details the narrator's musings from atop the tower, and his recollection of the islands' accidental discovery by Juan Fernández. "Sketch Fifth" describes the USS Essex' encounter with a phantom British ship near the area during the War of 1812.

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