Benito Cereno by Robert Lowell.

Based on Melville’s novel, BENITO CERENO is set in 1770 and depicts the mysterious events that occur when an American merchant vessel comes upon a battered Spanish ship with its nearly all-black crew and a white captain, Benito Cereno.

Known principally as a poet, Robert Lowell won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947 for “Lord Weary’s Castle,” and in 1974 for “The Dolphin.” He won the National Book Award for Poetry in 1960 for “Life Studies,” and served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1947-48. His trilogy “The Old Glory” is comprised of BENITO CERENO; MY KINSMAN, MAJOR MOLINEUX; and ENDECOTT AND THE RED CROSS, all essentially plays about American history.

In his biography, “Melville: His World and Work,” (Vintage Paperbacks), author Andrew Delbanco writes, “In our own time of terror and torture, ‘Benito Cereno’ has emerged as the most salient of Melville’s works: a tale of desperate men in the grip of a vengeful fury that those whom they hate cannot begin to understand”.

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