Between 1849 and 1860, Herman Melville undertook three extended sea voyages. These trips occasioned three journals, the only ones Melville is known to have kept. The journals from the first and last voyages are both disappointing. The first, a chronicle of Melville’s trip to London in 1849, consists mainly of notes on the pubs he visited, the people he met, and his dealings with publishers; the last, from an 1860 “health-excursion” from Boston to San Francisco, is made up largely ofnotes on the weather. The ostensible purpose of the London trip was to negotiate the British sale of his most recent novel, White-Jacket. In truth, Melville, unhappy with his new responsibilities as a father and husband, wanted escape. He resented the role of breadwinner, and was keenly embarrassed not only by the hastily written White-Jacket, but also by its predecessor, Redburn, both of which he considered...

 

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