“Melville was a born romancer. One cannot account for the success of his early romances by saying that in the Great South Sea he had found and worked a new field for romance, since evidently it was not his experience in the South Sea that had led him to romance, but the irresistible attraction that romance had over him that led him to the South Sea. He was able not only to feel but to interpret that charm, as it never had been interpreted before, as it never has been interpreted since.” – Eulogy Editorial in the New York Times, 1891 The life and legacy of Herman Melville have taken on various incarnations in the nearly 200 years since he was born. When he died in 1891, Melville was remembered for his series of well-received works back in the mid-19th century, particularly his first novel Typee, a bestseller when it was initially published. But his death followed over four decades of general obscurity, which was noted in an editorial eulogy for Melville that appeared in the New York Times: “There has died and been buried in this city, during the current week, at an advanced age, a man who is so little known, even by name, to the generation now in the vigor of life that only one newspaper contained an obituary account of him, and this was but of three or four lines. Yet forty years ago the appearance of a new book by Herman Melville was esteemed a literary event, not only throughout his own country, but so far as the English-speaking race extended.” Melville’s name may have been almost completely forgotten during his own lifetime, but there was a “Melville Revival” in the early 20th century, thanks to Raymond Weaver’s biography on him in 1921 and several works reviewing American literature in the years following. Benito Cereno is a story that focuses on a slave rebellion on a merchant ship around the turn of the 19th century.