Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Redburn: His First Voyage, Etc.” as Want to Read:
Redburn: His First Voyage, Etc.
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Redburn: His First Voyage, Etc.

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  368 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Title: Redburn: his First Voyage, etc.Publisher: British Library, Historical Print EditionsThe British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom. It is one of the world's largest research libraries holding over 150 million items in all known languages and formats: books, journals, newspapers, sound recordings, patents, maps, stamps, prints and much more. Its co...more
Paperback, 658 pages
Published March 17th 2011 by British Library, Historical Print Editions (first published 1849)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Redburn, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Redburn

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 756)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Melville is one of the writers I 'saved for later'. I wanted to be able to crack open the occasional unread heavy hitter. It was a risky move. Anything goes wrong now, I will never read 'Moby Dick', and if that car in St-Lazare had driven rather than skidded into my bike back in '04, I would never have read 'Moby Dick' or 'Redburn'. That would be a pity. I would have missed watching Wellingborough, cringe green at the start, learn his ropes. It is complicated, physically taxing work that Melvill...more
Half way through this, young Redburn having arrived in Liverpool after his first sea voyage, from New York. Melville, of course, is wonderful at evoking sea journeys and it goes without saying that he imbues his descriptions with the allegorical and the transcendent. Here, by distancing the absent narrator who heas each chapter in the third person, there is delightful humour and irony at the expense of the growing, often so priggish, sailor. He cannot be other than who he is, and his own map of...more
Robert Farwell
It must be awful as a writer to dash off a novel for money or tobacco in a couple of weeks and have it praised, but see your earlier serious novel (Mardi) panned, and your later novel (Moby-Dick) under-appreciated until years after your death. That is the genius of a select group of writers -- they are destined to exist in this weird space between art and the public. Perhaps the strong bitter of Melville's art was just too early and too strange for the public, but they WERE ready for his swipes....more
one of the many amazing passages in redburn about learning the sailor language (check out the semicolon action!):

"It is really wonderful how many names there are in the world. There is no counting the names, that surgeons and anatomists give to the various parts of the human body; which, indeed, is something like a ship; its bones being the stiff standing-rigging, and the sinews the small running ropes, that manage all the motions.
I wonder whether mankind could not get along without all these...more
Matt B.
A bit more readable still than Melville's first three books, but lacking the high flights of metaphor in his later works, Redburn is an interesting American bildungsroman in the 'coming of age' genre. Melville did not rise to the level of Huckleberry Finn (or anywhere close), but the novel holds interest for Melville scholars for its narrative structure and its (likely) autobiographical elements.

As in Moby Dick, the narrator in Redburn is both a first-person teller of the tale, and an older, sel...more
I loved this story and couldn't stop turning the pages. I felt like I actually got to know the main character and was alongside him on his travels.
One of Melville's "cakes and ale" books (along with White Jacket), and one of his best despite the author's negative label. Melville seemed perturbed about the reception of Mardi, and felt that the sap-headed public only wanted travel-oriented tales of the seas. Unwittingly, he spun to very well-written books that are something more than cakes and ale--something more than what Typee and Omoo could ever be. In Redburn and White Jacket Melville touches upon his philosophical touchstones in wyas mo...more
"Redburn" is a fictional narrative based on Melville's own experience, young boy's first voyage into the hostile world, and the feeling is that of reading his personal journal.
Of course, Melville's Moby-Dick, great in its theme and style is a brighter sun to me. Nevertheless, "Redburn" has the same voice and passion. I enjoyed the book.

The title of this book totally isn't Moby Dick. It seems like a shame that for so many, the fact that this book is not Moby Dick seems to be Redburn's most egregious error. Just pretend someone else wrote it and it totally becomes a good book, like MAGIC!!!11

I'm not really down for Moby Dick 2: A Fish to Kill, anyway.
gabriel henderson
good old herman. this was written before "moby dick," (i believe) and is not quite so elloquent, but melville still has some beautiful passages tucked in there. as with "moby dick," there are a few long dry chapters that you will have to endure.
Although I don't consider this to be either my favorite Melville novel or my favorite seafaring adventure, it DOES happen to be the book I was reading when I realized how much I truly do love Melville novels and seafaring adventures.
Mark Stephenson
Wellingborough Redburn comes from a large and illustrious New York mercantile family which has recently become impoverished because of the bankruptcy and death of his father. Needing to support himself, he decides to find employment where employment is available - the sea. This novel, like Melville's earlier Typee and Omoo, is a sort of fictionalized memoir based upon his own experiences at sea - this time his first voyage in 1839. This was not aboard a whaling ship but on a merchant vessel carr...more
Corinne  E. Blackmer
Redburn: His First Voyage, Being the Sailor-Boy, Confessions and Reminiscences of the Son-of-a-Gentleman, In the Merchant Service
Redburn Wellingborough, a young man who idealizes his Revolutionary War era father, decides to go to sea, leaving his bereaved mother and sister and taking with him a journal written by his father that he regards as sacrosanct. The moment he leaves home, however, he is ridiculed for his antique clothing, and we become aware that we are in the Jackson Era, during which...more
This shoddy number shows that Melville wasn't good at writing for money. It's about a well-mannered lad down on his luck who becomes a sailor and has to learn the hard way how to be a sailor. Then it's about Liverpool, with meanandering passages about the mean lives therein—sort of like Dickens without the rich characters. Then it's back to the ship, but with the addition of some new sailors, one with womanly eyes and another with a liquid singing voice; much of the remainder of the book focuses...more
Richard Epstein
You'll know I was once a serious student of literature when I tell you I've read both Redburn and Israel Potter. I couldn't enjoy them, of course; no one could do that; but I read them through and made fatuous notes in the margins.

How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle. Today I miss Elmore Leonard far more than Melville and would rather consider Dutch's idea of a confidence man than Herman's.
Stuart Kenny
I'm surprised how much I enjoyed this book--I couldn't put it down! Nothing happens--it's just a series of vignettes. And yet, it was very compelling. I felt it was sort of a prequel to Moby Dick--setting the stage, sketching the characters, etc. It works better than Mardi because the symbolism isn't heavy-handed. Because it feels so natural, the subtle symbolism works.
An amazingly good book. About Melville's first voyage to sea...done with wit and an incredible amount of detail about "how it was." There's a fair amount of philosophizing, 99% of which shows Melville to be a modern thinker, e.g. why shouldn't a black man be able to walk with a white woman as they do in England. Most of his comments skewer our foibles as people and a nation.

And there were very few tedious areas (which unfortunately stick out in my memory of Moby Dick so much, that I was quite s...more
great book by Melville. all the typical Melvillean trademarks are here - story set on the sea, short chapters, slightly difficult vocabulary, singular style of description.

great plot and unforgettable characters. Harry Bolton is a prima donna spoiled bourgeois young gentleman who suffers from extreme mood swings. Captain Riga was the unscrupulous captain and the author is the greenhorn new ship sign-up.
Written in the same year, i also noticed many similarities in poetic style between Redburn and...more
Some fine humor in this tale of a naif's first voyage as a seaman.
The novel he wrote just before Moby Dick, Melville does a good deal of describing the characters of sailors and the general milieu of Liverpool circa 1840. But if you're looking for a plot, there's none: he gets on a ship, sails to Liverpool, meets some guy who sucks at sailing, and sails back to New York. I only liked it for the historical detail and colorful dialog.
An excellent book by Herman Melville, and definitely his easiest story to read. It's a coming of age tale about a boy coming to terms with the harsh realities of life while serving as a cabin boy on board a merchant ship. Very dark ... especially after reading Cooper's "Deerslayer."
I feel like what I just finished reading could have been told in about half the number of pages and have been done better. There were certain passages and sentences that showed the make of a brilliant writer, but overall it was underwhelming.
This was the most excruciatingly boring book I have ever read! I hated it. It had no plot or moral to the story. It seeemed like the authors way of brain-dumping all his sailing memories.
As other classics, Redburn does not disappoint. I was pleased with the many insights Melville included concerning the state of mankind, thoughts of the desperate and searching.
Starts out as a coming of age/ going to sea sort, and stays that way, with only occasional digressions and glances into the chasm of human despair. Bring on White Jacket!!
Reads like a trial run for Moby Dick, but an excellent salty story. Definitely a good one if you like tall ship sailing and/or are interested in the period.
my copy is actually the lovely anchor edition that has cover art and typography by edward gorey. so far, only a chapter in, i'm really digging it.
Corinne  Lundstrum
This like OF Human Bondage and the Heart is a Lonely Hunter was summer reading in high school. This was BORING but well-written.
not a horrible read, not the best ever. melville is melville.
on water it's good. on land it's a drag.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 25 26 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Princess Casamassima
  • David Balfour: Being Memoirs of the Further Adventures of David Balfour at Home and Abroad (David Balfour, #2)
  • The Colour Out of Space: Tales of Cosmic Horror by Lovecraft, Blackwood, Machen, Poe, and Other Masters of the Weird
  • Melville: His World and Work
  • What's God Got to Do with it? Robert Ingersoll on Free Thought, Honest Talk & the Separation of Church & State
  • The Rise of David Levinsky
  • The Franchiser
  • Sent for You Yesterday
  • Culture and Society 1780-1950
  • The Coquette (Early American Women Writers)
  • The Prairie
  • The Collected Prose
  • The Open Boat and Other Stories
  • Desire Under the Elms & The Great God Brown
  • Call Me Ishmael
  • Jews Without Money: A Novel
  • Selected Tales and Sketches
  • Tales of Unrest
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. His first two books gained much attention, though they were not bestsellers, and his popularity declined precipitously only a few years later. By the time of his death he had been almost completely forgotten, but his longest novel, Moby-Dick — largely considered a failure during his lifetime, and most responsible for...more
More about Herman Melville...
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Bartleby, the Scrivener Billy Budd, Sailor Benito Cereno Billy Budd and Other Stories

Share This Book

“At length I fell asleep, with the volume in my hand; and never slept so sound before” 9 likes
“I had the whole road to myself, for no one was yet stirring, and I walked on, with a slouching, dogged gait. The gray shooting-jacket was on my back, and from the end of my brother’s rifle hung a small bundle of my clothes. My fingers worked moodily at the stock and trigger, and I thought that this indeed was the way to begin life, with a gun in your hand!” 3 likes
More quotes…