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Within the taut power structure of life aboard ship, the young Redburn suffers the bullying and brutality of officers and men, and encounters below deck the dominating presence of the sickly and manic Jackson. In the Liverpool of the mid nineteenth century - the people "as numerous as maggots in cheese" - he witnesses a writhing and squalid sort of half-life, and in company with the enigmatic and fugitive Harry Bolton he makes a fantastic whirlwind visit to London, where he finds Gomorrah to match the Sodom-like grime of Liverpool. With Redburn Melville achieved a new, spare and compelling idiom, a new mastery of his material, and in this, the first annotated edition of the book, Harold Beaver affords us a glimpse at the heart of its fscination and mystery.
Wellington Redburn is a fifteen-year-old from the state of New York, with only one dream - to run away to sea. However, when he does fulfil this long-held fantasy, he quickly finds that reality as a cabin boy is far harsher than he ever imagined. Mocked by the crew on board the Highlander for his weakness and bullied by the vicious and merciless sailor Jackson, Wellington must struggle to endure the long journey from New York to Liverpool. But when he does reach England, he is equally horrified by what he finds there: poverty, desperation and moral corruption. Inspired by Melville's own youthful experiences on board a cargo boat, this is a compelling tale of innocence transformed, through bitter experience, into disillusionment. A fascinating sea journal and coming-of-age tale, Redburn provides a unique insight into the mind of one of America's greatest novelists.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Herman Melville, though not appreciated in his own time, is now regarded as one of America's greatest novelists. Much of the material for his novels was drawn from his own experience as a seaman. He wrote his masterpiece Moby Dick in 1851 and died in 1891
“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