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.
About the Author
Herman Melville was an American novelist, poet, and lecturer best known for his classic novel Moby-Dick, as well as for his short fiction "Bartleby, the Scrivener," and the unfinished "Billy Budd, Sailor." Educated as a teacher and later as an engineer, Melville's writing was heavily influenced by his time aboard the whaling ship Acushnet, and his month-long captivity by Typee natives on Nuka Hiva island. Although Melville experienced success early in his writing career, public indifference to his masterpiece, Moby-Dick, resulted in waning attention, and his work was almost entirely disregarded by the time of this death in 1891. Melville's work experienced a revival in the early twentieth century, and he is now considered one of the pre-eminent American writers of his time. He is also one of the most-studied novelists, and was the first writer to be collected and published by the Library of America.
Elizabeth Hardwick is the author of many books and essays, including "Herman Melville" (Penguin Lives), "Sleepless Nights," and "American Fictions," available as a Modern Library paperback. She lives in New York City.
“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