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Fiction Classics

Benito Cereno

by (author) Herman Melville

edited by Brian Yothers

Broadview Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2019
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2019
    List Price

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“Benito Cereno,” a story of atmospheric Gothic horror and striking political resonance, represents Herman Melville’s most profound and unsettling engagement with the horrors of New World slavery. Narrating the story of a slave revolt using materials drawn from Amasa Delano’s non-fictional account of the Tryal Rebellion from earlier in the nineteenth century, Melville’s story probes the moral complexities of the antebellum United States and its position within the Americas. Melville explores the psychology of slavery and racism and the role of violence in both the resistance to, and the perpetuation of, slavery in the Americas.

The appendices to this volume illustrate how Melville’s satirical treatment of racism and his ambivalent response to violent resistance to slavery connect with antislavery literature (poetry, fiction, and non-fiction alike) in the middle of the nineteenth century, and they also consider how “Benito Cereno” functions as a central piece in Melville’s contribution to the literature of the Americas.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Brian Yothers is Frances Spatz Leighton Endowed Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Editorial Reviews

“The Broadview Press edition of Herman Melville’s ‘Benito Cereno’ is vital for teaching, research, and exploring the power of American short fiction. From abolitionist writings to texts about the Haitian Revolution to reflections by Melville’s contemporaries, Brian Yothers has reassembled crucial materials for a profound journey into Melville’s fictional universe. Whether you are interested in the historical context that inspired Melville or the philosophical questions that saturate his art, this captivating edition contains all of the major materials and literary artifacts. If you’re teaching, rereading, or even discovering ‘Benito Cereno’ for the first time, this edition is a fresh and fully updated take on Melville’s classic.” — Christopher Freeburg, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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