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Download Benito Cereno Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Benito Cereno, by Herman Melville Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,965 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Herman Melville Narrator: Stefan Rudnicki Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Piazza Tales Release Date: July 2009 ISBN: 9781455195831
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “In our own time of terror and torture, Benito Cereno has emerged as the most salient of Melville’s works: a tale of desperate men in the grip of a vengeful fury that those whom they hate cannot begin to understand.”

    Andrew Delbanco, author, Melville: His World and Work

  • “The noblest short story in American literature.”

    Edward J. O’Brien, American author and short-story anthologist

  • “Superficially, this is a story of slavery and mutiny on the high seas, but beneath the adventure-charged plot lies Melville’s examination of that subject which so fascinated him: the confrontation of extreme forces of good and evil in the universe.”

    Masterpieces of World Literature

  • “Beneath the adventure-charged plot lies Melville’s examination of that subject which so fascinated him: the confrontation of extreme forces of good and evil in the universe.”

    Masterpieces of World Literature

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeanine | 2/20/2014

    " It's Melville, so it's dense, but the suspense and unraveling of the mystery is worth it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark | 2/15/2014

    " Melville's ability to paint vivid psychological portraits of his characters is uncanny. Captain Delano's hubris and resultant ignorance is a vivid reminder of how foolish it is to give heed to stereotypes and assumptions. While the scenario here may be dated, or at least seem foreign, the moral is just as applicable today as ever. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shanice | 2/14/2014

    " Ok, the language is pretty dense and kinda boring at first, but give it some time to warm up. Benito Cereno is one of those stories that stands up on its own no matter the time period in which it was written. It has a slow and very detailed beginning because its ending is so wrapped up in those beginning details, but trust me, the ending is worth the wait. I suggest reading this at the same time as a friend, because I read this for a class and the discussions it provoked made it that much better, as we were able to point out certain passages in it that some of us might have missed. This is a short story that definitely sticks with you and encourages its readers to be more active in their reading. It's easy to get to lost in pretty words and passively read a text but this one encourages you to look for what's around the corner and to go back to explore its passages once you've reach its conclusion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 2/6/2014

    " This book moves in the same way as the craft that Herman Melville describes in such detail, each creek from the deck and streak of dust from the helm leaves us questioning. A sway of the waves, and our suspicions are jolted and just as we hit the water, all seems to be revealed. Over all I enjoyed this book, the details of the ship and the english, just like any older english, only added to the mystery. And when you've finished the book, and you've gained your sea legs, you'll have to read it again and decipher the clues yourself. Or just dive into Moby Dick, if you've taken your Dramamine. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stuart | 1/30/2014

    " Benito Cereno is the most complex treatment of the brutalities of and incoherences of the human condition. Despite the seemingly conventional moral weights assumed by the point of view of the narration, Melville opens up a spaces of profound philosophical and ethical ambiguity, and, in doing so shreds any preconceptions or simple moralizing. Atlantic Slavery-that greatest of crimes-is interrogated, but in layering multiple levels of victimhood, one puts down the story asking even larger questions about about humanity's endless self-deception. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lynn | 1/29/2014

    " It's 1/5th the length of "Moby Dick" and about 1/5ht the quality, too. Read about the White Whale instead. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tanya | 1/24/2014

    " I suppose the laborsome Moby Dick is a must read, if only because it is an important book, but if your view of Melville is that of tedious attention to (boring) detail, I would highly encourage giving Benito Cereno a chance. I haven't read a novella this riveting in a long while - is it a dark comedy? The closest thing I can relate the experience of reading this book to is watching the movie Fargo, which although seems incongruous will make perfect sense after you read it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 1/14/2014

    " The only Melville that I ever truly enjoyed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Teal | 1/14/2014

    " love love "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 J.smyth.pdx | 1/9/2014

    " A sea captain happens upon a ship plagued by an unknown assailant. Has the crew been decimated by plague, scurvy, or rebellion? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heather Stroh | 12/8/2013

    " Currently reading with my daughter for her Summer reading assignment. Good thing I'm reading it on my Kindle (r) so that I have the dictionary app handy!! But seriously, good so far!!! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Katie Stark | 8/22/2013

    " valuable but boring "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gertrude | 8/11/2013

    " Didn't like it. It's just that simple. I read a little bit of "The Good Captain" by Jay Bushman, which was based on "Benito Cereno" & I enjoyed "The Good Captain" much more than "Benito Cereno." Now I see why this text has basically been forgotten. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark Zockoll | 7/28/2013

    " An easier-to-swallow work of Melville, though, true to his name, never lacking for deeper study. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Justin | 6/18/2013

    " What if Herman Melville's problems with race in Moby Dick were the entire point of the story instead of the periphery? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ariel | 4/9/2013

    " LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenna | 8/21/2012

    " Had to read this for Fiction 2 class. Was okay anyway "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brent | 4/3/2012

    " I've included this book solely for "The Paradise of Bachelors & the Tartarus of Maids," which is a story even better than its title and is too often overlooked in preference for "Bartleby" and "Benito Cereno". "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Liz | 3/20/2012

    " If you like Mutiny stories you'll enjoy this one. Captain Delano was forced into analyzing his situation based on little to no clues. From the point of view of Psychology this was interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 SARAH | 12/25/2011

    " Without having read Moby Dick, I venture to say this is the best of (minor) Melville. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charles Berman | 10/15/2011

    " Masterfully-written and haunting -- a lament over how we cannot, when all is said and done, ever truly understand the thoughts of another, and a deep undermining of authority. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Helen | 2/10/2011

    " "Benito Cereno" is powerful in so many ways, but I have to admit that I slogged through it rather unwillingly. English class, naturally. Also - though this was exactly the point - the racism made me cringe in many places! Now... essay time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hadrian | 1/7/2011

    " Slow, well-crafted story of evil and slavery and rebellion and deceit. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Werebot | 9/19/2010

    " I was excited about this after reading Bartleby, but I thought it was kind of a borefest. "

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