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by Herman Melville

Herman Melville wrote Bartleby the Scrivener as an emotional response to the fact that his masterpiece Moby-Dick was not selling as well as he had expected. The work is said to have been inspired, in part, by Melville's reading of Emerson, and some have pointed to specific parallels to Emerson's essay, The Transcendentalist. Although the story was not very popular at the time it was published, Bartleby the Scrivener has become among the most famous American short stories. It has been considered a precursor to absurdist literature, touching on many of the themes extant in the work of Franz Kafka, particularly in The Trial and A Hunger Artist. However, there exists nothing to indicate that the German-language writer was at all familiar with Melville, who was largely forgotten until after Kafka's death.
Download Bartleby, The Scrivener : A Story of Wall-Street epub
ISBN: 1438288913
ISBN13: 978-1438288918
Category: Mystery
Subcategory: Thrillers & Suspense
Author: Herman Melville
Language: English
Publisher: CreateSpace (May 19, 2009)
Pages: 70 pages
ePUB size: 1519 kb
FB2 size: 1553 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 983
Other Formats: lrf docx azw lit

Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener is something of a seduction. It is either a long short story or a short novella. 64 pages in my lovely Art of the Novella edition. This is among the last works of Melville and is considered as the first work in the emerging style known as naturalism. It may be but it is certainly gentle and initially light hearted in its tone.

It is this light heartedness that makes it seductive. We are introduced to an almost Dickensian office of scriveners. Here the staff spends every working day writing out in long hand, exact duplicates of legal documents, arguments and depositions. Every page must be word for word correct and with the least tolerance for blots. The owner and narrator runs his team with a light hand. Think of a less gregarious version of Mr. Fezziwig from A Christmas Carrol or Samuel Pickwick of the Pickwick Papers. The owner/narrator has a high tolerance for personal quirks and a tendency among the staff to fuel up on alcohol during meal times. Into this mix come Bartleby. The man who prefers, not to. Every effort is made to adjust to his idiosyncrasies, but each adjustment takes the story into a darker place and tests his employer’s tolerance for a man who eventually ceases to have any functions except to be there.

The usual case for Bartleby is that he is the man who refuses to fit in. The man who simply says “I prefer not to”. This analyses than turns to the rest of us and asks if we can call ourselves human or humane if we cannot find a space for the person who offers nothing? The question is valid, the example is flawed.

As the story progresses Bartleby is granted a great deal. Changes are made to his benefit and his reply is to assume as his right that more will be given. There is always something else that he “prefers not to.” To me the question of Bartleby is one of how to best serve his mental health issues. Something poorly recognized and most often grossly mishandled in Melville’s time and defining the literary point at which Bartleby achieves the perfect negative state of “preferring not to”.
This review is for the free Kindle edition of this novella. The novella is available for purchase in several book formats, some of which contain excellent critical essays on this important American author and his work. This Kindle edition contains only the text of the novella, but it is free and that's great.

"Bartleby the Scrivener" is a very accessible short novella by the author of "Moby Dick." It tells the story of a strange young man named Bartleby who shows up one morning at a New York law firm and is employed as a copyist (scrivener.) In those days (mid-nineteenth century), legal work was horrendously tedious for the clerks since huge briefs and depositions had to be copied by hand by men who did nothing all day but write a clear hand (and try not to leave ink blots on the paper,) and then check their work by reading it aloud back to each other.

This is one of my favorite novellas (really a long short story). Wittily narrated by the harassed lawyer who owns the law firm, it describes the characters of those copyists who are employed there, and tells of the strange Bartleby who just decides to stop doing any work one day, telling his exasperated employer that he "prefers not to."

The story is a wonderful mixture of high comedy, pathos and fascinating commentary on the human condition. I re-read it at least once a year, and I always enjoy it and get something fresh from Melville's wise insights and his wonderful wit.

Highly recommended.
What a haunting story. It makes you ponder long after you finish reading. Such loneliness, such pathos. Bartleby
was an outlier of society with his own value system. No wonder the society rejected him. But that does not make him less of a human being.
this is a short story with with some complexity around character development. there were really only two characters in the story. the narrator who was the owner of the firm and bartleby, someone he hired. It has a sad ending. The author does leave a lot of questions unanswered, but the story still reads well.
When you say "Herman Melville", people groan and think of being made to read Moby Dick in high school and/or college. This is quick, interesting, and raises a lot of questions. I give it to my friends to see if they are a social conservative or a social liberal. The plot moves quickly, although the writing style is dated.
There is something profoundly eternal in Bartleby's tale. In his petrified isolation, he is as much a part of the 21st century as of the 19th. More's the pity for us. More's the wonder.
I love this book . . . encountered this character in a graduate level course of Melville's works for my Master's degree back in the '70s. What a great answer Bartleby gave when he "preferred not to"! I've used this myself--sometimes jokingly--in the years since I became acquainted with the scrivener.
I am a true lover and collector of classic literature, but somehow this is my first opportunity to read Mellville. Bartleby is an odd little story about an odd scavenger that stays with you long after the pages have all bet turned.