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You've been a bad, bad reader.

O'Connell, ''Narrative Collusion and Occlusion in Melville's 'Benito Cereno''' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

John Haegert engages with the problem of the supposed "bad" reader, and argues that the narrative structures the kind of "misleading" critics so frequently identify as a problem (Keesey 187).
So am I or am I not a bad reader for thinking of Delano in "Benito Cereno" was a racist. Was it Melvilles fault for this. O'Connell by way of Haegert says maybe. All I got from this was either I am or am not a bad reader. I felt like a bad reader after reading this essay for not being able to tell. I agree that Melville should have gotten his point across differently/better. At first I did see it as a story of slave uprising and yeah the blacks, but I thought maybe that was my present reading of the text, and -same first reading-automatically figured that the people reading this story when the story was new would have easily agreed with Delano and would have seen the blacks as the bad guy(s). But was that such a poor authorial intent reading by me, shame on me. I apologize to you Mr. Melville, for thinking that you, a Yankee, would have been so evil and also a racist. For Ms. O'Connell shown the light that maybe my first impressions as a present reader were your intentions as a 'old' writer were true. It was your clumsy narrative that fooled me. Shame on you Mr. Melville for doing so. I still don't know if I'm a bad reader or not, maybe I'll never know, maybe it was her poor style that fooled me, or maybe not.

Comments (1)


I didn't see it as much as "good reader" and "bad reader" as much of O'Connell asking if we were impetuous in our jumping to judge Delano (and Cereno). I thought that, more so, we were being advised against falling into the trap and labeling Delano "Captain Happy," as a certain Dr. Jerz did, which colors our understanding of Melville's ambiguity.

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