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Bartleby by Herman Melville
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Bartleby (original 1853; edition 1997)

by Herman Melville, Benjamin Orteski (Postface)

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1,685594,239 (3.91)75
Member:clairwitch
Title:Bartleby
Authors:Herman Melville
Other authors:Benjamin Orteski (Postface)
Info:Mille et une nuits (1997), Poche, 80 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street by Herman Melville (1853)

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» See also 75 mentions

English (48)  French (3)  German (2)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (59)
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
Wow. I thought I must have read this in my youth, but now I'm sure I would have remembered Bartleby had I encountered him before! Bartleby, employed as a lawyer's clerk, takes his passive resistance to exerting any effort to the ultimate extreme. If Bartleby were merely disinclined to work, his employer, literature's most accommodating employer, and we, the story's readers, would know what to make of him. Bartleby, however, is not inclined to humor us in that or in any regard. To our requests that he explain or justify his behavior, accept our sympathy, or act according to convention, reason, or self-preservation, Bartleby will respond, with quiet determination, "I would prefer not to." Somehow, in his refusal to be controlled, pressured, or in any way manipulated, I found him perversely inspiring. ( )
  meandmybooks | May 10, 2017 |
This story may be saying something that I didn't understand. Maybe it is a response to something happening in Melville's time? I don't know.

Whatever the case may be, this story frustrated me. I wanted to put it down many times. The narrator is frustrating. He bloviates on his nice and proper sensibilities. Nobody cares! Stop talking! Bartleby is nauseous. I didn't enjoy him as a character. Whatever he represented didn't interest me nor concerned me. Ugghh...and the final line. Platitudes don't rescue a bad story.

For as much as a Luddite I am, thank God we have computers and printers to do a some of a scrivener's work. ( )
  cambernard90 | Apr 12, 2017 |
I was meant to read this four years ago in an American literature course but I was short on time and always felt bad for skipping it as I knew that it was Important. Of course, having read and not enjoyed all that other Melville ([b:Billy Budd, Sailor|15613|Billy Budd, Sailor (Enriched Classics)|Herman Melville|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1386922957s/15613.jpg|2764239], [b:Benito Cereno|178629|Benito Cereno|Herman Melville|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1316731577s/178629.jpg|413925], [b:The Confidence-Man|12036|The Confidence-Man (Oxford World's Classics)|Herman Melville|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1390068747s/12036.jpg|13340108]) made me unsure. Daniel Handler praised it (and said "I would prefer not to" never became the anthem it should have) and so many places refer to it that even though I understood the reference in theory I of course wanted to understand it in practise. So in this workshop with the other grad students it was set up against Hawthrone's "The Minister's Black Veil" which I'd read before and I surprised myself with how greatly I enjoyed this story. Perhaps knowing to an extent what it would be helped. Perhaps the much shorter length of it was another benefit. I can see why this is anthologised more. Although it is famously obscure, it's also one of the easier Melville texts to grapple with and although it's still got that Melvillian density there's an end in sight that makes it easier to consume. Being written for a magazine likely assists its readability, and while I'm not about to start recommending Melville to anyone, I might now make the disclaimer that "Bartleby" is alright. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
Wait, I actually liked a Herman Melville work? Color me absolutely shocked. I've read it three times now (well, it is a short novella) and each time I stumble upon something new. At first look, it seemed rather straight-forward, but with each reread I saw how layered it actually was. Surprising how a story about a man who simply preferred not to do anything could be so eventful. Anyone looking for a quick but satisfying read should pick this up. ( )
  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
Entertaining and funny little story about a mysterious young clerk. It reminds me of Kafka's Metamorphosis in that an alien element is suddenly introduced in a closed completely ordered world, causing problems and distress. ( )
  stef7sa | Jan 5, 2017 |
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I am a rather elderly man.
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Imagine my surprise, nay, my consternation,
when without moving from his privacy, Bartleby
in a singularly mild, firm voice, replied, “I would prefer not
to.”
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0974607800, Paperback)

"I prefer not to," he respectfully and slowly said, and mildly disappeared.

Academics hail it as the beginning of modernism, but to readers around the world—even those daunted by Moby-DickBartleby the Scrivener is simply one of the most absorbing and moving novellas ever. Set in the mid-19th century on New York City’s Wall Street, it was also, perhaps, Herman Melville's most prescient story: what if a young man caught up in the rat race of commerce finally just said, "I would prefer not to"?

The tale is one of the final works of fiction published by Melville before, slipping into despair over the continuing critical dismissal of his work after Moby-Dick, he abandoned publishing fiction. The work is presented here exactly as it was originally published in Putnam's magazine—to, sadly, critical disdain.

The Art of The Novella Series

Too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story, the novella is generally unrecognized by academics and publishers. Nonetheless, it is a form beloved and practiced by literature's greatest writers. In the Art Of The Novella series, Melville House celebrates this renegade art form and its practitioners with titles that are, in many instances, presented in book form for the first time.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Wall Street is turned upside-down when Bartleby, a copier, decides he is no longer willing to do it.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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