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March 8, 2007

Outside Of The Norm

Whodunnit? Or, Who Did What? "Benito Cereno" and the Politics of Narrative Structure, Swann

Literary Criticism--EL312

"Benito Cereno" is not a conventional detective story. It lacks the explanatory authority the detective provides...

It is not what you would think a detective story would be. But thanks to Captain Happy, Melville made the whole situation of a slave revolt (something that should be obvious) mysterious. What makes this novella a mystery is that the obvious issue is the thing that we should not be worried about. The issue of slavery in this novella is the obvious issue, however, in the world of Benito Cereno is it not the real problem at hand. Personally, I think that this story shouldn't be listed as a mystery story, however, with the sick mind of Melville, it is not necessarily farfetched.

Posted by KevinHinton at March 8, 2007 8:27 PM


I was disappointed with his theory too, because he just seems to be talking about the analogies we already made in class before we even read this. That shows we're becoming good critics though, right?

Posted by: Erin at March 12, 2007 1:46 PM

First off Erin, we definitely are becoming sharper in our literary skills to have already picked this up, although we can really use this as a detective story in an intertextual criticism, because there are multiple similarities in the conventions of a mystery story and Benito Cereno. In my weblog entry, I actually spent my time creating a comparison between Sherlock Holmes and Benito Cereno, using the usefulness of Benito Cereno in comparison to Watson. I don't know, I liked it, and I took a stab at creating my own intertextual criticism. If I'm crazy, just let me know.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at March 14, 2007 5:04 PM

There is no way that I would ever call this story a mystery. I still don't see the connection that Swann used in calling this story one. Maybe I missed something in my reading of the essay, but I find it very hard to do so(call It a mystery).

Posted by: Mitchell Steele at March 15, 2007 11:46 AM

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