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Bartleby and Benito Cereno (Dover Thrift Editions)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2014
A nice pair these, especially the underrated 'Benito' which I once saw correctly identified as at least the equal of anything in Conrad. And it is that good: a case can be made for it as Melville's finest story. I have written elsewhere of 'Bartleby', the enigmatic Nay-Sayer, speaker for a Melville bitter at 'Moby Dick's' failure and unwilling to explain WHY he "would prefer not to." IT is a great exercise in the hermetic; "never apologise never explain" indeed; it's a masterpiece of proto-Modernism, inscrutable and beguiling, resolute in keeping Truth occluded. 'Benito Cereno' adorns a real tale of sea-raid and capture, but the telling is remarkable and the denouement worrying. If at first more of a piece with Melville's early, simple sea stories, in fact there are hints of a far darker knowledge here: of dark and light, of ambiguity and threat, appearance belying reality; the common modernist themes. It is brilliantly rendered and worthy of a very great writer, fully the equal of 'Bartleby' - it shares with its dissimilar partner a fastening on the hidden - and deserving larger 'billing' on the cover. It has a place on any study of Post-Colonial literature, certainly; it speaks to the FLN in Algeria thus has resonance for France, (for example) and for Britain in Kenya fighting Mau-Mau. This is one of the masters of the short story, as great as Chekhov, if a polar opposite. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2014
Benito Cereno is in itself an interesting tale of an unusual rebellion on a slave ship, and it is made all intriguing by being closely based on the story of a real slave rebellion aboard a Spanish merchant ship over 50 years earlier in 1799. However it is Herman Melville’s almost Kafkaesque but infuriatingly funny tale of Bartleby The Scrivener that shines brightest in this duo of Melville stories. This tale deserves be as well-known as that other Melville story about a whale fixation.
I could say much, much more in praise of Bartleby The Scrivener, however, I would prefer not to…….
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2013
A book on the Coursera course, Fiction of Relationship. A book I wouldn't have read if it wasn't a book on the course but very glad I did. Extraordinary stories of relationships
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 October 2014
Typical Melville, i.e. lots of detailed description and layers to his story telling. It helps to read it with a group to discuss it afterwards.
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