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February 19, 2007

What Is and What Isn't in "Benito"

I know...I know. Melville is never going away. I said before that he haunts me still. I might as well just get used to him. If he and I can co-exist for a few months, the relationship might work.

Initially I had a hard time following what O'Connell was getting at, but much like last week's reading on "The Tempest," I will liken that also to fatigue. It turned out I just needed a coffee (or so I thought, anyway).

For me, and this is some Reader-Response for you, I found the core of her essay was, basically, don't stand around and refer to Delano as "Captain Happy." She defends Melville's use of ambiguity and strange, if not ethereal, bond between Melville, the two captains, the slaves and the readers. She even defends how Melville tells us what to think at the onset of the story, claiming that we should be "wise and discerning, able to see beyond the allegedly innocent interpretations of Delano."

I enjoyed that O'Connell went to great lengths to show that Melville, for all intents and purposes, was a bastard about writing this story. She even says "Melville appears difficult simply for the sake of being difficult." Kind of like dealing a moody, hormonal teenager. They don't entirely know why they are being difficult and belligerent, but they feel a compulsion to do so. Melville felt this same need, but being the master craftsman that he is knew that in creating a mood of difficulty would also create an ambiguous atmosphere.

Curses on you, Melville. I wish I knew how to quit you.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at February 19, 2007 11:50 PM


I don't know that I enjoyed how she went to such lengths to prove that Melville was being ambiguous. The way that she pointed it out, and I wrote this on my blog, made me feel like an idiot for not recognizing it myself. I hate it when people have to point things out to me and bring it down a level because I feel as if, once it is pointed out to me, that I should have known it all along. That is the type of feeling that I get from this essay and as I said on my blog, "Darn you Melville."

Posted by: Tiffany at February 21, 2007 7:06 PM

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