Redburn: His First Voyage is a novel by Herman Melville published on September 29, 1849, by Richard Bentley in London and on November 14, 1849, by Harper & Brothers in New York City.
The author returned to the tone of his first novels, Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847). Redburn is a semi-autobiographical novel concerning the sufferings of a refined youth among coarse and brutal sailors and the seedier areas of Liverpool. This theme of a youth confronted by realities and evils for which he is unprepared—or incorrectly prepared by both family and American institutions—is a prominent one in Melville's works.
While not generally considered as profound as Melville's later works, the most notable being Moby-Dick, the novel can be viewed as a precursor to later, more complex works of fiction. For example, many of Redburn's themes are echoed in Moby-Dick, and some of Redburn's characters are forerunners of those in Melville's most epic novel (e.g., Jackson is a precursor of Captain Ahab).
With Redburn, Melville was hastily trying to return to a more commercial format after having taken a critical and commercial drubbing with his allegorical novel Mardi, which had been published earlier in the year. Melville leaves behind the complex structures in Mardi, a book that never quite gelled, for a more straightforward and travelogue-like narrative in the traditions of his earliest work. The novel does, however, display some of the more experimental tendencies that made Moby-Dick so popular after Melville's death, and begins to incorporate much of the symbolism that separates his earlier work from later, denser novels such as Pierre. Melville also takes the opportunity in Redburn to make a number of social criticisms, perhaps most prominent among them both explicit and implicit attacks on the evils of drink.
Oddly enough, Redburn also contains one of the notable examples of spontaneous combustion in literature, along with Charles Dickens' Bleak House. -- from Wikipedia
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Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.From the Inside Flap:
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.
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