With its intense mix of mystery, adventure, and a surprise ending, Benito Cereno at first seems merely a provocative example from the genre Herman Melville created with his early bestselling novels of the sea. However, most Melville scholars consider it his most sophisticated work, and many, such as novelist Ralph Ellison, have hailed it as the most piercing look at slavery in all of American literature.
Based on a real life incident—the character names remain unchanged—Benito Cereno tells what happens when an American merchant ship comes upon a mysterious Spanish ship where the nearly all-black crew and their white captain are starving and yet remain hostile to offers of help. Melville's most focused political work, it is rife with allusions (a ship named after Santo Domingo, site of the slave revolt led by Toussaint L'Ouverture), analogies (does the good-hearted yet obtuse American captain refer to the American character itself?), and mirroring images that deepen our reflections on human oppression and its resultant depravities.
It is, in short, a multilayered masterpiece that rewards repeated readings and deepens our appreciation of Melville's genius.
- Blackstone Publishing
- Blackstone Audio, Inc., and Buck 50 Productions, LLC
- Publication Date:
- OverDrive MP3 Audiobook 97.9 MB
- OverDrive Listen 97.8 MB
Gabrielle De Cuir (Director)
Gabrielle de Cuir, award-winning narration, has narrated over two hundred titles and specializes in fantasy, humor, and titles requiring extensive foreign language and accent skills. She was a cowinner of the Audie Award for best narration in 2011...
Herman Melville (Author)
Herman Melville (1819–1891) was born in New York. Family hardships forced him to leave school for various occupations, including shipping as a cabin boy to Liverpool in 1839—a voyage that sparked his love for the sea. A shrewd social critic and ph...