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Redburn: His First Voyage is the fourth book by the American writer Herman Melville, first published in London in 1849. The book is semi-autobiographical and recounts the adventures of a refined youth among coarse and brutal sailors and the seedier areas of Liverpool. Melville wrote Redburn in less than ten weeks. While one scholar describes it as "arguably his funniest work," scholar F.O. Matthiessen calls it "the most moving of its author's books before Moby-Dick".
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Drawn from Melville's own adolescent experience aboard a merchant ship, "Redburn charts the coming-of-age of Wellingborough Redburn, a young innocent who embarks on a crossing to Liverpool together with a roguish crew. Once in Liverpool, Redburn encounters the squalid conditions of the city and meets Harry Bolton, a bereft and damaged soul, who takes him on a tour of London that includes a scene of rococo decadence unlike anything else in Melville's fiction. In her Introduction, Elizabeth Hardwick writes, ""Redburn is rich in masterful portraits--a gallery of wild colors, pretensions and falsehoods, fleeting associations of unexpected tenderness. . . . "Redburn is not a document; it is a work of art by the unexpected genius of a sailor, Herman Melville."
This Modern Library Paperback Classic is set from the text of the first American edition of 1849.
“Redburn, recalling the cruel memories of [Melville’s] youth, was the first bitter cry of his maturity. . . . The book has the wry humour of the grown man. . . . Redburn was a victory.” —Lewis Mumford
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