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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 leading up to the American Civil War.

Listeners are advised that the story is told mainly from the point of view of Captain Delano, who harbors the racial stereotypes characteristic of most white Americans at the time. The novella raises such compelling questions about race that Ralph Ellison took his epigraph for Invisible Man from Melville.

Our reader is Doug Storm. Special music for the episode comes from River of Light by Richard Danielpour, performed by Tim Fain and Pei-Yao Wang. Produced and written by Cynthia Wolfe with Doug Storm.

Credits

Host: Sarah Torbeck
Announcer: Berklea Going
Executive producer: Alycin Bektesh
Theme music: The Impossible Shapes

Interchange – Rahaf Safi and Shadi Alkattan: Understanding Syria

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This week on Interchange, host Joe Crawford speaks with Rahaf Safi and Shadi Alkattan, both Syrian Americans who are also college students living in Bloomington. Safi and Alkattan discuss their past experiences visiting family and friends in Syria as well as what they have seen and heard about the government under President Bashar al-Assad. They also talk about the effects of the civil war on the ground in Syria and why some are calling for an international intervention in the conflict.

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