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Benito Cereno (Spanish Edition) (Spanish) Hardcover – June 30, 2011
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About the Author
Escritor estadounidense, Herman Melville está considerado como uno de los grandes autores de la literatura universal. Con apenas veinte años, Melville comenzó una serie de viajes por todo el mundo que más adelante le servirían como base e inspiración para varias de sus novelas, incluyendo varios años trabajando como ballenero y pasando varias aventuras en las islas del Pacífico. El mar y su mundo son fundamentales en la obra de Melville, como ya se aprecia en Mardi (1849) o Taipi (1846). Dichas obras se convirtieron en un éxito de público aunque la crítica nunca acompañó su carrera. Su obra más conocida en la actualidad es, sin duda, Moby Dick (1851), adaptada al cine y la televisión en numerosas ocasiones, pero que en su época pasó completamente desapercibida. Pese a todo, Melville continuó escribiendo hasta lograr grandes cuentos como Benito Cereno o Bartleby el escribiente. Herman Melville murió en 1891 y no fue hasta la década de 1920 que la crítica recuperó su obra para situarla como una de las más influyentes de todo el siglo XIX. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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It is 1799, and an American sea Captain Amasa Delano has harbored at St. Maria island off the extreme southern coast of Chile to take on fresh water. Sighting a ship without colors on the horizon, Delano with a crew take the whale boat to investigate, finding a near-derelict Spanish slave ship drifting aimlessly on a calm sea. Upon boarding, Dalano finds the ship's captain, Benito Cerino, near death and the ship's human cargo - men, women, and children - unconstrained topside. Cerino is constantly tended to by "Babo," a young Spanish-speaking slave, who never leaves the captain's side, catering to his every wish - the extent that the ship's half-starved inhabitants can accommodate. Cerino tells Delano a harrowing tale of violent storms encountered after leaving Buenos Aires en route to Lima, rounding the Cape and encountering two months of deadly calm that made navigation impossible - drownings, scurvy, and lack of water decimated the crew. Delano finds Cerino's tale dubious, especially since so few of the Spanish crew have survived, taking a much lower toll on the slaves. More troubling is the relationship between Babo and Cerino, which Delano considers beyond odd. The trusting and possibly naïve Delano silently questions Cerino's motives, and several times fears for his own life, each time to be subsequently placated, writing his fear off as mere paranoia induced by the freakish conditions on board the vessel. Tension builds, the enigma grows, and by now, the reader, puzzled by the contradictions, is undoubtedly tempted to jump ahead to see where Melville is taking us.
Melville's writing falls just short of epic poetry, and as such, "Benito Cerino" requires some work and concentration. Much of the jargon is unfamiliar nautical terms or 19th century prose that is now archaic. But the diligent reader will be rewarded with beautiful prose than spins a surprisingly surrealistic atmosphere - an authentic portrait of life at sea at the turn of the 18th century while capturing the period's views of race and slavery. Melville never preaches or cajoles, is never heavy handed, but instead weaves complex relationships and cultural issues so deeply in the fabric that multiple reads will certainly yield fresh insight and new meaning - the kind of story that invokes that "did I really read this?" moment. In short, a powerful short story that deserves more attention - my candidate to replace - or at least complement - "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" or "A Tale of Two Cites" on high school readers' list of required classics.