First Edition of Melville's Redburn: His First Voyage
Herman Melville. Redburn: His First Voyage.
New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1849. First American
edition, second issue (with eighteen pages of ads instead of
fourteen). Octavo. 390, [18, ads] pages. Publisher's full purple
cloth (BAL binding A), boards ruled and elaborately stamped in
blind, spine ruled in blind and lettered in gilt, yellow coated
endleaves. Spine and board edges sunned and worn, some soiling to
boards, upper corners bumped, endleaves soiled, first blank excised
(not part of collation), text foxed and intermittently soiled.
Lightly shaken and skewed. An about very good copy.
This semi-autobiographical novel is centered around Wellingborough Redburn, a sheltered youth who falls in with crude sailors. It also has one of the earliest literary references to spontaneous human combustion. Although Melville didn't like this book (he did it for money "to buy tobacco with"), it was one of the few critical successes during his lifetime (his masterpiece, Moby Dick, wasn't regarded as a classic until the early twentieth-century).
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