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Herman Melville - Four Short Stories (edition 1963)

by Herman Melville (Author)

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1032117,210 (4.83)1
Member:rsubber
Title:Herman Melville - Four Short Stories
Authors:Herman Melville (Author)
Info:Bantam Books, New York
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:fiction, short stories, literature, American literature, 19th century

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Four Short Novels by Herman Melville

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Melville's got it bad. First his mom named him Herman. Then, after a few successful early novels, his later work was panned by the critics and he died poor. Moby Dick is now considered a masterpiece, perhaps THE Great American Novel, but it's not widely read today. School kids are assigned Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn instead, or maybe The Scarlet Letter. If the story of the great, white, whale is too intimidating, do what I did and read some of his short stories or novels instead. Bartelby the Scrivener is about an employee from hell and is laugh out loud funny in parts. The Encantadas, about the Galapagos, is eminently readable and seems more non fiction than fiction. Benito Cereno is creepy and suspenseful. Billy Budd was the most challenging of the four short novels but was still a page turner. Except for the first story, set in New York City's Financial District, these are salty and authentic tales of the sea. Melville brings to life a mariner past and his stories carry moral weight but are not as weighty as you might fear. Take the plunge.
  OccassionalRead | Apr 15, 2014 |
Review of Bartleby, the Scrivener:

If you can read Bartleby without suspecting, nay, more or less believing that it was written by Dickens, you can take pride in your mental discipline whilst reading. I confess that I briefly searched for Bartleby in my rumpled collection of Dickens, which of course does not include The Piazza Tales.

None of Melville's notorious South Sea elements here. This is straightforward, 19th century prose set in 19th century Wall Street with shabby, luridly eccentric antebellum characters including the narrator and his bedeviled scrivener (copyist), Bartleby.

The circumstances of this desiccated short story are curious, even eccentric, incredulous. The withered and aloof Bartleby is presented, examined and disdained, until his very dispirited isolation makes him the object of the narrator's genuine but increasingly troubled caretaking.

Bartleby's enervating and apparently desperate ennui keep him always a step removed from the narrator's efforts to supply a little humanity in his life.

The scrivener is lonely beyond understanding. He bears almost in silence the emotional poverty that ultimately kills him.

One believes that Bartleby longed, in vain, to be able to repel the Reaper with his simple and inscrutable refrain: "I would prefer not to."

I will prefer not to re-read Melville's tale on a dreary afternoon.
Read more on my blog: http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/ ( )
  rsubber | Jun 23, 2013 |
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