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Books Unbound – “Benito Cereno” by Herman Melville

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The first of a four-part program on Herman Melville’s masterpiece of historical fiction, “Benito Cereno.” This American novella is based on a chapter from the memoir of the real-life Captain Amasa Delano, who during his voyages in 1805 encountered a mysterious merchant-ship carrying a skeleton crew of Spaniards, an ineffectual and perplexing captain, and 150 Africans for the slave trade. In changing some of the details from the original factual account, Melville creates a dark and suspenseful allegory of race and class, fraught with tragic irony, that appeared during the crisis years l