Melville's Reviewers: British and American, 1846-1891

By Hugh W. Hetherington | Go to book overview

Chapter V: REDBURN

"We are glad . . . that the author has descended from his sublime . . . to common and real life. His sailor boy's first voyage . . . is as perfect a specimen of the naval yarn as me ever read."--LondonLiterary Gazette ( 1849), reviewing Redburn.


BRITISH RECEPTION

Having found anything but remunerative the experiment of offer- ing his public a voyage frankly fantastic, the now impecunious young author made, with a voyage patently real, a candidly admitted bid for base shillings and dollars. Suggested by Melville's initial sea voyage, as a cabin boy in a merchantman plying between New York and Liverpool, but in many respects not autobiographical, this book was rather hastily put together, and the author's own expectations of favor with the critics were not high. Redburn: His First Voyage. Being the Sailor-boy Confessions and Reminiscences of the Son-of-a-Gentleman in the Merchant Service was published in London on September 26, 1849, and, like Mardi, by Richard Bentley.1

For once the London literary weeklies did not have the first word about one of Melville's books; they were this time anticipated by a London daily newspaper, the Morning Post, which on October 1 carried the first known review of Redburn, a long and complimentary one. The opening sentence in the Post, however, was an apt expression of the main reason Redburn aroused less interest than Typee and Omoo

____________________
1
Inserted as an advertisement into the London Morning Post on September 26, 1849, was the announcement of a new work "Redburn, etc." as "published this day" by Richard Bentley. But according to an advertisement in the Morning Chronicle it was published on September 27. Redburn was well advertised in London. It was advertised in the Morning Herald on September 8, 10, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, as well as every day or two throughout October. In the Morning Post it was advertised on September 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, on October 1, 8, 9, 10, 11; in the Morning Chronicle on October 6, 8, 10, 15, 16, 22.

-135-

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Melville's Reviewers: British and American, 1846-1891
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • List of Illustrations xii
  • Chapter I: Reviewers British And American 3
  • Chapter II: Typee 20
  • Chapter III: Omoo 66
  • Chapter IV: Mardi 100
  • Chapter V: Redburn 135
  • Chapter VI: White Jacket 157
  • Chapter VII: Moby-Dick 189
  • Chapter VIII: After Moby- Dick 227
  • Chapter IX: "Dead Letters" 265
  • Index 293
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