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Bartleby, the Scrivener: By Herman Melville : Illustrated & Unabridged (Free Bonus Audiobook)

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Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville How is this book unique? Illustrations Included Free Audiobook "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" (1853) is a short story by the American writer Herman Melville, first serialized anonymously in two parts in the November and December editions of Putnam's Magazine, and reprinted with minor textual alterati Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville How is this book unique? Illustrations Included Free Audiobook "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" (1853) is a short story by the American writer Herman Melville, first serialized anonymously in two parts in the November and December editions of Putnam's Magazine, and reprinted with minor textual alterations in his The Piazza Tales in 1856. Numerous essays are published on what according to scholar Robert Milder "is unquestionably the masterpiece of the short fiction" in the Melville canon.


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Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville How is this book unique? Illustrations Included Free Audiobook "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" (1853) is a short story by the American writer Herman Melville, first serialized anonymously in two parts in the November and December editions of Putnam's Magazine, and reprinted with minor textual alterati Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville How is this book unique? Illustrations Included Free Audiobook "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" (1853) is a short story by the American writer Herman Melville, first serialized anonymously in two parts in the November and December editions of Putnam's Magazine, and reprinted with minor textual alterations in his The Piazza Tales in 1856. Numerous essays are published on what according to scholar Robert Milder "is unquestionably the masterpiece of the short fiction" in the Melville canon.

30 review for Bartleby, the Scrivener: By Herman Melville : Illustrated & Unabridged (Free Bonus Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    I would tell you what I think of this story, but I prefer not to.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    What a pleasure it is to return to a work of genius and find it inexhaustible! What a host of insights, what a web of subtleties, are contained within this short account of the breakdown of one man in a five man office! I think of Melville the sailor, accustomed to wide sea vistas and many sea duties, recoiling at the confined, reduced lives of New York City office workers. I think of Melville the innovative writer, his popularity—and income—waning as his daring increased, contemplating the act o What a pleasure it is to return to a work of genius and find it inexhaustible! What a host of insights, what a web of subtleties, are contained within this short account of the breakdown of one man in a five man office! I think of Melville the sailor, accustomed to wide sea vistas and many sea duties, recoiling at the confined, reduced lives of New York City office workers. I think of Melville the innovative writer, his popularity—and income—waning as his daring increased, contemplating the act of writing considered in itself as a bleak task performed for money. I think of Melville the prophet, warning of the starkness of the coming metropolis and the small brutalities of cubicle capitalism. I also marvel at the literary landscape which flows past the windows of this tale, for Bartleby, though it speeds non-stop from the village of Dickens to Kafka Terminal, yet gives us a glimpse of the cities of Dostoevsky and Zola, their chimneys darkening sunset in the hills beyond. But the truth which haunts me is how precisely Melville delineates how we all survive--or do not survive--our workaday worlds. Either we reduce our personalities to caricature and numb ourselves through substance abuse (the clerks Turkey and Nippers) or we deceive ourselves through a pattern of benign neglect disrupted by fits of compassion (the Manhattan lawyer). Otherwise we are doomed to be Bartleby, dismantling ourselves little by little, uttering—in small “I prefer not to” portions—The Everlasting No.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Muhtasin Fuad

    Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville I would prefer not to. In the story, a lawyer hired a clerk but he preferred not to do any work. Now the interesting part is how the lawyer would handle him. That's a magnificent story about sympathy and depression. The beauty of the book is the way it develops. From a rather jovial, common description of office life, the story suddenly takes a twist to a sad story. Brilliant concepts and insights still fitting for today. Sometimes a character out of a bo Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville I would prefer not to. In the story, a lawyer hired a clerk but he preferred not to do any work. Now the interesting part is how the lawyer would handle him. That's a magnificent story about sympathy and depression. The beauty of the book is the way it develops. From a rather jovial, common description of office life, the story suddenly takes a twist to a sad story. Brilliant concepts and insights still fitting for today. Sometimes a character out of a book will stick with you. And this book has the full capability to create that influence . Ah, happiness courts the light so we deem the world is gay. But misery hides aloof so we deem that misery there is none. Ah, humanity!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    Ah, Bartleby. Ah, Humanity. At first, as I tried to contain my surprise that Melville, who awed me in Moby Dick, was now writing with such humour and lightness, I felt that Bartleby was a Heroic figure, someone to be admired and emulated - and a welcome break from the complicated characters of the doomed ship. On second thought, with a slight sinking feeling, I felt he might be a Romantic figure, someone to be eulogized and applauded. Then, still upbeat about the simplicity of the novella, I was su Ah, Bartleby. Ah, Humanity. At first, as I tried to contain my surprise that Melville, who awed me in Moby Dick, was now writing with such humour and lightness, I felt that Bartleby was a Heroic figure, someone to be admired and emulated - and a welcome break from the complicated characters of the doomed ship. On second thought, with a slight sinking feeling, I felt he might be a Romantic figure, someone to be eulogized and applauded. Then, still upbeat about the simplicity of the novella, I was sure that he was meant to be an Ironic figure, someone to be understood and assimilated. Soon, as the comic aspects faded into melancholy and unexpected depth started invading the short narrative, I started feeling that he might instead be intended as an Absurd figure, someone to be pondered and puzzled over. Towards the end, as I too devolved with the spirit of the poor man, I felt that he must certainly be a Tragic figure, someone to be pitied and parodied. Finally, along with the narrator, I was on the brink of concluding that he is a Villainous figure, someone to be excluded and ostracized. But, in the end, in the tragic and evasive end, the novella had proved itself to be anything but simple and he was none of this and all of this, of course. He was probably the essential human present in the most inscrutable of strangers, in the inner life of the other. He might also be the scion of capitalism, a representation of its many wonders, and an idle, early sacrifice at the altar of pacifism and non-violence. He was some mysterious combination of the heroic and the ironic, and the rest too, in all probability - of the incongruous and the inevitable. A Gandhi without an audience. He was Bartleby, the Scrivener. I would prefer not to classify or understand him any further. It will be too discomforting.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street, Herman Melville Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street is a short story by the American writer Herman Melville, first serialized anonymously in two parts in the November and December 1853 issues of Putnam's Magazine, and reprinted with minor textual alterations in his The Piazza Tales in 1856. In the story, a Wall Street lawyer hires a new clerk who, after an initial bout of hard work, refuses to make copy or do any other task required of Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street, Herman Melville Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street is a short story by the American writer Herman Melville, first serialized anonymously in two parts in the November and December 1853 issues of Putnam's Magazine, and reprinted with minor textual alterations in his The Piazza Tales in 1856. In the story, a Wall Street lawyer hires a new clerk who, after an initial bout of hard work, refuses to make copy or do any other task required of him, with the words "I would prefer not to". The lawyer cannot bring himself to remove Bartleby from his premises, and decides instead to move his office, but the new proprietor removes Bartleby to prison, where he perishes. عنوانها: «ترجیح میدهم که نه»؛ «بارتلبی محرر و چند داستان دیگر»؛ نویسنده: هرمان ملویل؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و سوم ماه دسامبر سال 1979میلادی و بار دیگر در روز بیست و هفتم دسامبر سال 2015میلادی عنوان: بارتلبی محرر و چند داستان دیگر؛ نویسنده: هرمان ملویل؛ مترجم: هوشنگ پیرنظر؛ تهران، آگاه، 1357؛ در 132ص؛ موضوع: داستانهای کوتاه از نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 19م عنوان: ترجیح میدهم که نه؛ بارتلبی محرر و چند داستان دیگر؛ نویسنده: هرمان ملویل؛ مترجمها: گروه مترجمان نیکا؛ گزینش و ویرایش: پویا رفویی؛ تهران، نشر نیکا، 1390، 191ص؛ چاپ دوم 1393؛ شابک 9786005906257؛ در این داستان وکیلی از «وال استریت»، دفترداری را استخدام می‌کند، او پس از کوشش و کار چند روزه، برای رونوشت‌برداری، یا انجام هرکار یا وظیفهٔ دیگری، که به او واگذار می‌شود، سر باز می‌زند؛ آن‌هم هربار، با گفتن جملهٔ «ترجیح می‌دهم نکنم»؛ کتاب «ترجیح می‌دهم که نه» کتابی است که به کوشش جناب آقای «پویا رفویی»، و با ترجمه ی جناب آقای «کاوه میرعباسی»، در سال 1390هجری خورشیدی، در نشر «نیکا» منتشر شده، و شامل داستان «بارتلبی محرر»، و سه جستار فلسفی است؛ «ژیل دلوز»، فیلسوف فرانسوی در یکی از آخرین مقاله‌ های خود، با عنوان «بارتلبی، یا یک فرمول» به این داستان «هرمان ملویل» پرداخته، که با ترجمۀ جناب آقای «شهریار وقفی پور» در این کتاب موجود است، جناب آقای «امیر احمدی آریان» نیز، مقاله‌ ای از «ژاک رانسیر» با عنوان «دلوز، بارتلبی و فرمول ادبی» را ترجمه کرده اند، که در آن به بررسی و روشن کردن دیدگاه «دلوز»، درباره ی همین داستان «بارتلبی»، پرداخته شده است؛ عنوان مقاله ی سوم کتاب، «بارتلبی، یا در باب حدوث» است، که در آن «جورجو آگامبن» وجوه دیگر همین داستان را بررسی کرده، ترجمه ی مقاله ی سوم از جناب آقای «امید مهرگان» و جناب آقای «پویا رفویی» است تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 04/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street, Herman Melville Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street is a short story by the American writer Herman Melville, first serialized anonymously in two parts in the November and December 1853 issues of Putnam's Magazine, and reprinted with minor textual alterations in his The Piazza Tales in 1856. In the story, The narrator, an elderly, unnamed Manhattan lawyer with a comfortable business, already employs two scriveners, Nippers and Turkey, to Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street, Herman Melville Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street is a short story by the American writer Herman Melville, first serialized anonymously in two parts in the November and December 1853 issues of Putnam's Magazine, and reprinted with minor textual alterations in his The Piazza Tales in 1856. In the story, The narrator, an elderly, unnamed Manhattan lawyer with a comfortable business, already employs two scriveners, Nippers and Turkey, to copy legal documents by hand. An increase in business leads him to advertise for a third, and he hires the forlorn-looking Bartleby in the hope that his calmness will soothe the irascible temperaments of the other two. An office boy called Ginger Nut completes the staff. At first, Bartleby produces a large volume of high-quality work, but one day, when asked to help proofread a document, Bartleby answers with what soon becomes his perpetual response to every request: "I would prefer not to". To the dismay of the lawyer and the irritation of the other employees, Bartleby performs fewer and fewer tasks and eventually none, instead spending long periods of time staring out one of the office's windows at a brick wall. The narrator makes several futile attempts to reason with Bartleby and to learn something about him; when the narrator stops by the office one Sunday morning, he discovers that Bartleby has started living there. Tension builds as business associates wonder why Bartleby is always there. Sensing the threat to his reputation but emotionally unable to evict Bartleby, the narrator moves his business out. Soon the new tenants come to ask for help in removing Bartleby, who now sits on the stairs all day and sleeps in the building's doorway at night. The narrator visits Bartleby and attempts to reason with him; to his own surprise, he invites Bartleby to live with him, but Bartleby declines the offer. Later the narrator returns to find that Bartleby has been forcibly removed and imprisoned in the Tombs. Finding Bartleby glummer than usual during a visit, the narrator bribes a turnkey to make sure he gets enough food. When the narrator returns a few days later to check on Bartleby, he discovers that he died of starvation, having preferred not to eat. Sometime afterwards, the narrator hears a rumor that Bartleby had worked in a dead-letter office and reflects that dead letters would have made anyone of Bartleby's temperament sink into an even darker gloom. The story closes with the narrator's resigned and pained sigh, "Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!". عنوانها: «ترجیح میدهم که نه»؛ «بارتلبی محرر و چند داستان دیگر»؛ نویسنده: هرمان ملویل؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش نخستین بار بیست و سوم ماه دسامبر سال 1979 میلادی و بار دیگر: روز بیست و هفتم ماه دسامبر سال 2015میلادی عنوان: بارتلبی محرر و چند داستان دیگر؛ نویسنده: هرمان ملویل؛ مترجم: هوشنگ پیرنظر؛ تهران، آگاه، 1357؛ در 132ص؛ موضوع: داستانهای کوتاه از نویسندگان امریکایی سده 19م کاوه میرعباسی نیز این داستان را ترجمه و نشر نیکا در 1390هجری خورشیدی آن را منتشر کرده است نقل از متن: بارتلبی، آیا به من می‌گویی کجا به دنیا آمده‌ ای؟ ترجیح می‌دهم نگویم آیا حاضری راجع به خودت به من بگویی؟ ترجیح می‌دهم نگویم. پایان نقل اینها پرسشهای ساده‌ ای‌ هستنند، که صاحب محضری معتبر، از کارمند تازه‌ کار خود: «بارتلبی»، که محرر ساده‌ ای بیش نیست، می‌پرسد؛ و هربار مواجه با ناکامی از دریافت پاسخ می‌شود؛ «بارتلبی محرر»؛ نوشته ی «هرمان ملویل»، ماجرای محرری فقیر، و کارمندی دون‌ پایه‌ است، که نه غذای درست‌ و حسابی می‌خورد، و نه حتی، جایی برای زندگی‌ کردن دارد، ولی نیروی شخصی‌ اش بزرگوار است، نیرویی کاملا «نه»، اما قدرتمند؛ که ترجیح می‌دهد به انتظاراتی که دیگران از او دارند، تن در ندهد. «ترجیح می‌دهم نه» تم اصلی ماجراست، آغاز نه گفتن، به رییس از آنجا آغاز می‌شود، که صاحب‌ محضر، که از قضا مردی آسانگیر، و صبور است. از بارتلبی می‌خواهد متنی مختصر را، باهم مقابله کنند، اما بارتلبی به‌ جای مقابله ی متن، با لحنی بس‌ ملایم و قاطع جواب می‌دهد «ترجیح می‌دهم این کار را نکنم»؛ محضردار از فرط نابهنگامی پاسخ کارمند خویش، سخت متعجب می‌شود «بلافاصله گمان بردم که گوش‌هایم مرا فریب داده‌ اند، یا بارتلبی ابدا متوجه منظورم نشده، درخواستم را به واضح‌ترین صورت ممکن، تکرار کردم»؛ اما پاسخ پیشین با همان وضوح بیان شد‌ «ترجیح می‌دهم این کار را نکنم»؛ و ...؛ کتاب «ترجیح می‌دهم که نه» دربردارندۀ داستان «بارتلبی محرّرِ» هرمان ملویل و سه جستار فلسفی دربارۀ آن است تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 05/11/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    This classic 1853 Herman Melville novella is absurd and bleak, darkly humorous and heart-wrenching at the same time. It's the first time I've read it since a college English course years ago, when I didn’t much care for it. I appreciated it much more this time around. Bartleby is a scrivener - essentially, a human copy machine, back in the pre-Xerox days - working for a Manhattan-based lawyer who is the narrator of the tale. His co-workers: two other irritable scriveners of dubious temperament, a This classic 1853 Herman Melville novella is absurd and bleak, darkly humorous and heart-wrenching at the same time. It's the first time I've read it since a college English course years ago, when I didn’t much care for it. I appreciated it much more this time around. Bartleby is a scrivener - essentially, a human copy machine, back in the pre-Xerox days - working for a Manhattan-based lawyer who is the narrator of the tale. His co-workers: two other irritable scriveners of dubious temperament, and a office boy, identified only by their odd nicknames. Initially an industrious employee, Bartleby declines to participate in certain normal office tasks, giving no reason other than his oft-repeated mantra: "I would prefer not to." <----If you say if often and implacably enough, other people will grudgingly accept it and move on. But as Bartleby's reluctance to do his work expands to more and more tasks until it becomes all-consuming, his employer, though sympathetic to Bartleby's forlorn, lonely life, has to decide what to do with him. Bartleby is an elusive work. It's partly a cry out against materialism and the dehumanizing effect of the pursuit of money (the subtitle is "A Story of Wall Street") and partly an examination of isolation and depression, but there's much more to it, and it defies easy explanation. Some observations toward the ending are heart-wrenching:Dead letters! does it not sound like dead men? Conceive a man by nature and misfortune prone to a pallid hopelessness, can any business seem more fitted to heighten it than that of continually handling these dead letters, and assorting them for the flames? ... a bank-note sent in swiftest charity:—he whom it would relieve, nor eats nor hungers any more; pardon for those who died despairing; hope for those who died unhoping; good tidings for those who died stifled by unrelieved calamities. On errands of life, these letters speed to death.Gah! Those last lines killed me! And just because it's interesting, I'll share the one observation my college English professor made that has stuck with me through the years. There's a reference in the end to Bartleby sleeping "with kings and counselors" that the professor pointed out is a reference to these lines from the Bible:"13 For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept; then would I have been at rest 14 with kings and counselors of the earth, who built desolate places for themselves, 15 or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver"Job 3:13-15 (KJV) - It's a reference not just to death, but to a certain equality men have in death, despite their differences in worldly fortunes. Food for thought, like so much of this story!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Seemita

    I could ask you to look beyond your desk if you are at work or peep down your balcony if you are at home and spot a Bartleby. But I would prefer not to. I could urge you to frame that calamitous Bartleby whose 'selective' inveterate muteness is either enhancing your tolerance reserves or sharpening your fighting skills. But I would prefer not to. I could exhort you to unsuccessfully debase this Bartleby’s assiduity in light of his proven peculiarity. But I would prefer not to. I coul I could ask you to look beyond your desk if you are at work or peep down your balcony if you are at home and spot a Bartleby. But I would prefer not to. I could urge you to frame that calamitous Bartleby whose 'selective' inveterate muteness is either enhancing your tolerance reserves or sharpening your fighting skills. But I would prefer not to. I could exhort you to unsuccessfully debase this Bartleby’s assiduity in light of his proven peculiarity. But I would prefer not to. I could ask you the reason behind your acquiescence of this Bartleby's presence in your life and compel you to accept this Bartleby's apparent expertise in disarming your faculties. But I would prefer not to. I could challenge you to tear open your heart and then smirk at the sight of Bartleby's shades in it. But I would prefer not to. I could ask you to stop reading this annoying review right now and instead read the amusing novella by Herman Melville chartering the life of a benevolent employer and his eccentric scrivener, Bartleby. But I would prefer not to.

  9. 4 out of 5

    İntellecta

    "i perefer not to" A very touching and sad story about passive resistance! That encourages me to think. How i would behave in the situation? Would I accept him like that or would I fire him? I really dont know?! oh book. "oh Bartleby, oh mankind." "i perefer not to" A very touching and sad story about passive resistance! That encourages me to think. How i would behave in the situation? Would I accept him like that or would I fire him? I really dont know?! oh book. "oh Bartleby, oh mankind."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Florencia

    ...happiness courts the light, so we deem the world is gay; but misery hides aloof, so we deem that misery there is none. (15) I see a blurred silhouette. A person is sitting at the table. He is writing. He is not looking up. Nobody could have ever seen his face. It's been hours and he doesn't get up. A man, a chair, a table and a million papers. The spitting image of desolation. Does he have any life outside that place? Probably not. I hope he does. I read about this particular theme concerning ...happiness courts the light, so we deem the world is gay; but misery hides aloof, so we deem that misery there is none. (15) I see a blurred silhouette. A person is sitting at the table. He is writing. He is not looking up. Nobody could have ever seen his face. It's been hours and he doesn't get up. A man, a chair, a table and a million papers. The spitting image of desolation. Does he have any life outside that place? Probably not. I hope he does. I read about this particular theme concerning jobs that drain the life out of people, before. I am talking about Benedetti's Poemas de la oficina / Poemas del hoyporhoy, a collection of masterfully written poems that I highly recommend. I wrote some little notes in the form of a "review" so, I really don't have anything more to add. This is a new side of Melville for me. I am not proud of my experience with Moby Dick. At the same time, I am not sure if I will ever come back to that book. Perhaps, I should. Because the writing I found in this short story captivated me. Maybe it is because I could also relate to the story. The kind of story at which good-natured gentlemen might smile, and sentimental souls might weep. I see people writing and reading and filing old papers, new papers, somebody else's papers. Same rhythm, same tired-looking eyes, same purpose in life: to survive. It has been said that happiness is not doing what you want but wanting what you do. I agree. Otherwise, living becomes mere existing. Mechanical breathing. Surviving. Conceive a man by nature and misfortune prone to a pallid hopelessness, can any business seem more fitted to heighten it than that of continually handling these dead letters, and assorting them for the flames? (30) Melville, I feel an uplifting joy. Our relationship has been rekindled thanks to this short story. A perfect combination of vivid sorrow and a tender, subtle humor. His words resorted to the saddest yet most endearing beauty to describe one of the feelings every human being has experienced at least once: that raw feeling of loneliness. A lonely character in the middle of a crowd. A crowd of all countries and of all times. A passive, mild person who can elicit a violent reaction and a sense of sympathy at the same time. I finished writing these rambling thoughts and I still see that man writing on his desk. The amount of papers is increasing, so is his weariness. And now, he hardly blinks. Cold and unable to move, like a snowman made by some kid after school. The night is coming. Soon, he will be in complete darkness. He can't move but he could speak. He seems weak but he stood up for himself once, because he simply preferred not to do something. I salute you, silent man. And I wish everyone to never have to experience the slow vanishing that dead letters can cause. I can see that figure now—pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn! (7) I see Bartleby. A human mirror. May 7, 14 * Also on my blog. ** Photo credit: Bartleby the Scrivener via Theatre in Chicago

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    Tulsa Doom: Bartleby the Scrivener, contemplate this on the tree of woe. Bartleby the Scrivener: I would prefer not to. Monica Bellucci: Bartleby, come to me! Bartleby the Scrivener: Um ... Melville as a pre-existentialist, good read, and funny, also a precursor to absurdist theater, it reads like a long joke, I was left waiting for the punch line Tulsa Doom: Bartleby the Scrivener, contemplate this on the tree of woe. Bartleby the Scrivener: I would prefer not to. Monica Bellucci: Bartleby, come to me! Bartleby the Scrivener: Um ... Melville as a pre-existentialist, good read, and funny, also a precursor to absurdist theater, it reads like a long joke, I was left waiting for the punch line

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    “Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!” Reading the closing lines of this novella, one part of my self immediately exclaims: “That was unexpected, brilliant, absolutely perfect, let’s write a review!” Another part of me, confused, stubborn, rebellious, rejoins: “I prefer not to!” My social self, eager to share my reading experience, and to act according to the established patterns and traditions I have set up for my literary projects, cannot understand that attitude, as it doesn’t make any sense. “But WHY? “Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!” Reading the closing lines of this novella, one part of my self immediately exclaims: “That was unexpected, brilliant, absolutely perfect, let’s write a review!” Another part of me, confused, stubborn, rebellious, rejoins: “I prefer not to!” My social self, eager to share my reading experience, and to act according to the established patterns and traditions I have set up for my literary projects, cannot understand that attitude, as it doesn’t make any sense. “But WHY?” “I prefer not to!” And thus the review has to wait for a day, until the effect of Bartleby’s stubborn attitude towards conventional agreements and social behaviour has worn off enough for my regular self to reappear. Bartleby leaves me bewildered in many ways. I partly understand him, and sympathise with his wish to decide for himself what he is willing to do, and what he “prefers not to do”, regardless of the external expectations. I cheer him on in his rebellion against “what people are supposed to do”, and feel a liberating power emanating from his strong sense of integrity. At the same time, he drives me nuts - just like he drives his environment to passionate rage and confusion, most notably his caring, compassionate employer, who simply can’t deal with Bartleby’s straight refusal to do what is expected of him. Over the course of my professional life, I have known many Bartlebys, - people who put their own needs, wishes and preferences first and reject the very idea of working together to achieve a common goal. Those are the colleagues who add to the workload of other people, who can’t compromise, who don’t see the need to help out and support others. Whenever there is an additional task that needs to be done, they say: “I prefer not to!” And it is incredibly hard to argue against a wish. If a person offers a rationale for his or her preference, it can be challenged. But the simple statement disarms most people, who are used to finding compromises. More often than not, somebody else in the room offers to do what the Bartlebys of the world “prefer not to” do. The short story describes the dilemma of individual and collective responsibility in a narrative that is both sad and humorous, and intensely engaging. I often identify with Bartleby’s wish to separate himself from mainstream rules and conventions, but to make life run smoothly, I end up saying: “I prefer not to, but if there is no other way of solving this problem, I will do it!” Most people rely on the majority sticking to unwritten rules of social conduct, and Bartleby shows our incapability to deal with rule-breakers. An absolutely absorbing must-read for people interested in humanity’s balance between self and the world!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    My favorite short story of all time! "I prefer not to" is the best answer ever. My favorite short story of all time! "I prefer not to" is the best answer ever.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lynne King

    What an amazing story about a scrivener! I haven't read such an excellent novella as this in a long time. Set in the 1850's and narrated by a lawyer in New York, this tale breathes and glows like a star and yet death is lurking in the background throughout. The lawyer has known many scriveners but not one such as this particular individual who continues to fascinate him so much. Nuances about the bible with Adam and Eve, etc. give such a sense of place and spirit to this work that I can only desc What an amazing story about a scrivener! I haven't read such an excellent novella as this in a long time. Set in the 1850's and narrated by a lawyer in New York, this tale breathes and glows like a star and yet death is lurking in the background throughout. The lawyer has known many scriveners but not one such as this particular individual who continues to fascinate him so much. Nuances about the bible with Adam and Eve, etc. give such a sense of place and spirit to this work that I can only describe as a metaphysical experience which must indeed be repeated. Excellent.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    I can see that figure now -- pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn! It was Bartleby. One more on my reading list that comes from a Goodreads tip. Thanks again, folks! I've read it in an hour or so, but I believe it will stay with me for a lot longer. I had to check twice the year this novella was first published : 1853!!! I couldn't wrap my mind around how modern and fresh and relevant the story of Bartleby, the human xerox machine, still is. Decades before Franz Kafka or Eugene I can see that figure now -- pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn! It was Bartleby. One more on my reading list that comes from a Goodreads tip. Thanks again, folks! I've read it in an hour or so, but I believe it will stay with me for a lot longer. I had to check twice the year this novella was first published : 1853!!! I couldn't wrap my mind around how modern and fresh and relevant the story of Bartleby, the human xerox machine, still is. Decades before Franz Kafka or Eugene Ionesco or Haruki Murakami toyed with the theatre of the absurd and with the meaningless of existence, Herman Melville was exploring these territories through the meek character of a clerk on Wall Street. Another striking aspect of the story for me is the humour, something than passed unnoticed in the ponderous weight of Moby Dick (my only previous experience with Melville's prose). Here the funny observation and the wordplay have a strong presence right from the opening paragraphs, but always with an undercurrent of melancholy, hinting at a deep seated despair. Ah, happiness courts the light, so we deem the world is gay, but misery hides aloof, so we deem that misery there is none. The story is not told by Bartleby, but by his employer, a middle aged, laidback, financially succesful and quietly witty attorney for the bigwigs of industry, who needs clerks to make copies of his legal papers. With a great sense of comedic timing, enter Turkey and Nippers, followed by errand boy Ginger Nut. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and what I missed in their first introduction, became apparent as the novella unfolds. They are the prototipes of the wage slave, tied to their desk day after day, lost in menial and unsatisfying work. One is productive in the mornings, one in the afternoons, and both try to hide their basic alienation (one through drink, one through compulsive rearranging of his desk set). The patron is a kindly soul, so instead of firing both their asses, 21 century style, he proposes to hire a third scrivener. Enters Bartleby and out goes normality. He starts as the perfect employee until an innocent request throws us into unexplored territories. Side note : I was considering the advisability of including the story in a high school literary curriculum, until I had a clear picture of a full class of unruly teenagers answering : " I would prefer not to! " when asked for their homework. Maybe that's why my English teacher was mum on the subject and I had to discover Bartleby so late in my life. I see Bartleby as the spanner thrown in the well greased wheels of burgeois complacency and willful ignorance. Ignorance of precious time wasted on meaningless pursuits, ignorance of the suffering and need of our fellow humans, ignorance of the broken communication channels between same fellow humans. The ending prefers emotion over explanations, with the motivations behind Bartleby's passive resistant anarchy ( He was more a man of preferences than assumptions ) becoming insignificant in the face of his immense sadness. I wonder though, how many readers will read the final words, and then go on as they had each day before, in this age where the constant bombardment with news of catastrophy and murder on every TV screen / newspaper page / internet blog has desensitized our minds to suffering that is not immediate and personal. Instead of ending my review with the devastating closing epitaph of our humanity, I went back to an earlier passage that shows a less pessimistic approach on the part of the narrator: Aside from higher considerations, charity often operates as a vastly wise and prudent principle -- a great safeguard to its possessor. Men have committed murder for jealousy's sake, and anger's sake, and hatred's sake, and selfishness' sake, and spiritual pride's sake; but no man that ever I heard of ever committed a diabolical murder for sweet charity's sake. Mere self-interest, then, if no better motive can be enlisted, should, especially with high-tempered men, prompt all beings to charity and philanthropy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Luís

    In 19th century New York, a lawyer who already has two temperamental employees decided to hire Bartleby as a copyist in his small office. At first, very active in his work, Bartleby refused one day to collate his writings until he did nothing more with his days. Bartleby the Scrivener is the story of a man who decides to stop. Stop copying, stop talking, stop living. But he decides to stop with infinite politeness: "I would prefer not to." This politeness is disarming, as much for the reader as B In 19th century New York, a lawyer who already has two temperamental employees decided to hire Bartleby as a copyist in his small office. At first, very active in his work, Bartleby refused one day to collate his writings until he did nothing more with his days. Bartleby the Scrivener is the story of a man who decides to stop. Stop copying, stop talking, stop living. But he decides to stop with infinite politeness: "I would prefer not to." This politeness is disarming, as much for the reader as Bartleby's employer, who struggles in vain to understand the strange attitude. Of his employee. Why does Bartleby decide one day to stop everything? Because he doesn't want to play other men's games anymore? Because his previous job took away his identity? The author does not give us all the keys; the mystery remains for everyone to find their answer. This fact is where this novel is fabulous: Melville forces the reader to reflect on his existence through Bartleby's and delve deep into himself. It is an experience as scary as it is exciting.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a public seminar on Herman Melville’s short story, Bartleby, the Scrivener, given by Paul Auster and Nobel Laureate, JM Coetzee, hosted by the NYS Writer’s Institute. Because I am a huge nerd, I sat in the very front of the venue space (the first two rows of the theater were reserved for Writer’s Institute people), so I was in the third row. But Auster and Coetzee sat directly in front of me before the seminar started!! Swoon! I’ve never felt “st A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a public seminar on Herman Melville’s short story, Bartleby, the Scrivener, given by Paul Auster and Nobel Laureate, JM Coetzee, hosted by the NYS Writer’s Institute. Because I am a huge nerd, I sat in the very front of the venue space (the first two rows of the theater were reserved for Writer’s Institute people), so I was in the third row. But Auster and Coetzee sat directly in front of me before the seminar started!! Swoon! I’ve never felt “star-struck” before. Hopefully, the fact that I was in such close proximity to literary genius has rubbed off on me enough to be able to competently review this story. Melville’s nameless narrator starts out as an unsympathetic one; embodying many of the typical characteristics of the stereotypical, odious lawyer. He is arrogant: I am a man who, from his youth upwards, has been filled with a profound conviction that the easiest way of life is the best. He shamelessly name-drops: I do not speak it in vanity, but simply record the fact, that I was not unemployed in my profession by the late John Jacob Astor; a name which, I admit I love to repeat.... He’s a snob: I procured a high green folding screen, which might entirely isolate Bartleby from my sight, though not remove him from my voice. I found this story to be bleakly hilarious. First, there are the Dickensian nicknames for the other clerks in the law office (Turkey, Ginger Nut, Nippers). Then we have this crazy passive-aggressive Bartleby character, that starts out as an industrious model employee, but then inexplicably refuses to perform routine tasks. Then we learn he is actually living in this law office. Then there is his statement, “I prefer not to,” in response to his employer’s requests (“Bartleby, will you examine these copies?” “I prefer not to.” “Bartleby, you need to move out of my office.” “I prefer not to.”) By responding with “I prefer not to,” rather than a flat out refusal, Bartleby is asserting his autonomy, and subverting the traditional employer-employee role. “I prefer not to,” forces the requester to insist upon the desired course of action. It forces the requester to wheedle and massage the declarant into reconsidering their aversion to what has been requested. This is a great lesson in Advanced Manipulation Tactics. But the bleakness! The dead white walls and dead letters! What are we to make of this? Well, Auster and Coetzee didn’t have any definitive answers. Coetzee thought that the whole spiel about the dead letters was a structural defect in the story, and added on as an after-thought, as it felt so out of place. I took it to be a comment on the paradox of nihilism -- all there is is emptiness and meaninglessness (“I prefer not to,” but I’ll do it if you can convince me, because it doesn’t matter anyway), but the acknowledgment of this emptiness is meaningful. Coetzee talked about the terror of looking into the face of the white whale in Moby-Dick and seeing what nature is truly like and opined that Melville was after the same thing here, in Bartleby. That the acknowledgment of the emptiness, the blankness, is one that is truly horrific. Anyone that hasn’t read this, should read it. It’s a short story, and it can be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg - so no excuses! You know you have nothing better to do at work. I’m a dumb bimbo. Stop reading my fatuous drivel and read it yourself, and write a review that will blow my gibberish out of the water. (Please.)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sidharth Vardhan

    "He was more a man of preferences than assumptions." You know I often buy food from a local dhabha ( North Indian native restaurants). The waiters and cooks there work 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week before going to bed in a room within restaurants.Their whole life involves for months involves waking up at 6, cleaning the place, cooking, serving all day. Their social life for months is limited to the fellow workers. Many of them start working when they aren't even in teens. Literally no "He was more a man of preferences than assumptions." You know I often buy food from a local dhabha ( North Indian native restaurants). The waiters and cooks there work 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week before going to bed in a room within restaurants.Their whole life involves for months involves waking up at 6, cleaning the place, cooking, serving all day. Their social life for months is limited to the fellow workers. Many of them start working when they aren't even in teens. Literally no job security. The wages are low too, most of them will never even to make to middle class. They regularly take leaves for a couple of months to return to their families (who are in different states). I always a combination of guilt, sorry and respect for them (they don't, they are happy with their lot not knowing that the luckier people are cheating them), with all my introvertion, physical and mental health, I probably won't last two days in such a life. Anyway, back to the book. Life comes with a lot of assumptions - the assumption that things can be and are owned by people and you can't use another's things without their permission. Unless you are too rich, you have to earn . To earn, you have to suck up to people especially your bosses. And it could be even worse, if your job is not stimulating for you. Such a job must be like a cancer of individuality and personality. The only way to save people doing such jobs from being torn down and being turned into a function of their job is to keep working hours low so that they can do something more interesting to them in leisure time, unfortunately most of the times, the pay is so low that these very same people are most overworked. Now some people are able to see them that. That is price of people. Some people whose suffering, from circumstances and/or his psychological health, think that that life is not worth it. They would prefer not to go with the assumptions. Bartleby is one such person. Unfortunately he is poor, so, such nihlism proves fatal to him. I think the narrator's character was important too. His conflict-aversion makes sure that he doesn't judge Bartleby too quickly. His dillema of choosing between self-interest (the so-called practical choice) and compassionate approaches probably need no ellaboration. The combination of attraction towards Bartleby and frustration he feels when later won't do the 'practical' thing reminds one of different characters' reactions to Myshkin in 'The Idiot'. Quotes: (view spoiler)[ "Nothing so aggravates an earnest person as a passive resistance." "My first emotions had been those of pure melancholy and sincerest pity; but just in proportion as the forlornness of Bartleby grew and grew to my imagination, did that same melancholy merge into fear, that pity into repulsion. So true it is, and so terrible too, that up to a certain point the thought or sight of misery enlists our best affections; but, in certain special cases, beyond that point it does not. They err who would assert that invarialbly this is owing to the inherent selfishness of the human heart. It rather proceeds from a certain hopelessness of remedying excessive and organic ill. To a sensitive being, pity is not seldom pain. And when at last it is perceived that such pity cannot lead to effectual succor, common sense bids the soul rid of it. What I saw that morning persuaded me that the scrivener was the victim of innate and incurable disorder." "Ah, happiness courts the light, so we deem the world is gay; but misery hides aloof, so we deem that misery there is none." (hide spoiler)]

  19. 5 out of 5

    James

    Book Review I remember disliking it because it was all about this guy that slept in an office and his boss came in and he never did any work or something. These are just my first thoughts about the story. Time to read it again. Yes, I did read this. But this time, I think I got more out of it. It’s about choices and what someone will do and won’t do. It’s also about the walls of Wall Street. Basically it’s all about being an individual versus being part of a society. It was suggested Book Review I remember disliking it because it was all about this guy that slept in an office and his boss came in and he never did any work or something. These are just my first thoughts about the story. Time to read it again. Yes, I did read this. But this time, I think I got more out of it. It’s about choices and what someone will do and won’t do. It’s also about the walls of Wall Street. Basically it’s all about being an individual versus being part of a society. It was suggested at the end of class the other day that when we read it, think about capitalism. I picked up on that a little, but I’m not sure I understand it. I liked the story more this time, especially the names of three other scrivener/copy people. Turkey and Nippers and Ginger Nut. I tried to make a connection to real life and all with the names, but nothing hit me. I wonder what it would be like to be a scrivener - to copy things over and over again. I would probably do it. It sounds as though there is some monotony in it, but if others were there and you could do more than one thing at a time, then I could handle the job. About Me For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Paul Secor

    I read Bartleby years ago. I read it again recently. I still don't know what to make of it in a logical sense, but it speaks very deeply to something inside of me. What that something is, I may never know, but I do know that the book will stay with me for as long as I'm around. Is there a Bartleby somewhere in each of us? I read Bartleby years ago. I read it again recently. I still don't know what to make of it in a logical sense, but it speaks very deeply to something inside of me. What that something is, I may never know, but I do know that the book will stay with me for as long as I'm around. Is there a Bartleby somewhere in each of us?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Antonomasia

    Remarkable. One of the richest short stories I've ever read. It felt more like a novel in its scope and import: the shortest Great American Novel. Unlike - apparently - most Americans, I wasn't familiar with the storyline before I read Peter Coviello's up-to-the-minute and distinctly anti-capitalist introduction in the Penguin collection Billy Budd, Bartleby and Other Stories. But Bartleby was a name that, over the last few years, I'd become used to seeing referenced in online reviews, articles, Remarkable. One of the richest short stories I've ever read. It felt more like a novel in its scope and import: the shortest Great American Novel. Unlike - apparently - most Americans, I wasn't familiar with the storyline before I read Peter Coviello's up-to-the-minute and distinctly anti-capitalist introduction in the Penguin collection Billy Budd, Bartleby and Other Stories. But Bartleby was a name that, over the last few years, I'd become used to seeing referenced in online reviews, articles, and in the title of Enrique Vila-Matas' book Bartleby & Co. Something about a GR friend's recent review of another book switched on a lightbulb in my head and I decided "I must read Bartleby soon". (Even if it is probably too short to count as a work by Melville for another reading project I'm doing.) I did not expect Melville to be so much like Dickens in atmosphere - in milieu, rather, but with a greater air of intellectual seriousness and realism. (Making this comparison reminds me of 00s accusations of British literature as trivial whilst the real seriousness and innovation was in the US - although Melville was writing at a time when Europeans did not yet take American literature seriously.) An essay setting Bartleby alongside A Christmas Carol would be a fine thing. The latter is the wish, the former a in some ways a more likely reality. Bartleby also has similarities to the protagonist of Alan Sillitoe's The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, but each story is embedded in its respective culture (rising 19th century America, and working-class mid 20th century Britain). Bartleby the Scrivener is the more sophisticated work - though LLDR does, as is now important from a representational/response perspective, speak in the refuser's own words. Bartleby is such a layered work because it does not, although one feels that somehow, the story is ultimately on Bartleby's side. I was taken with what Coviello mentions about Bartleby as a totem of the Occupy movement. But there are so many other questions, and potential interpretations and projections. What was Bartleby’s influence on psychologist Albert Ellis, who, nearly a century after the story’s publication, founded the REBT branch of cognitive behavioural therapy, in which the word “prefer” is also central? Bartleby’s enigmatic blankness allows the reader to see many possible stories and analogies in him. His is a story of both the power and the limits of politeness; and he can illustrate things that it did not used to be polite to raise (and which still aren't in some places.) One may imagine Bartleby as someone gradually trying to overcome the sequelae of growing up with an abusive family (the narrator’s idea of sending him back to his family, if only he knew who they were, being so very wrong for him). He is learning to listen to his inner needs and assert his sense of self, but the world of 19th century clerical employment is fundamentally inappropriate for this, and he lacks the guidance of 20th century psychotherapeutic theory. His repeated refusals also, for me, bring to mind, how, when one has a chronic illness or disability, one has to sit through some people’s repeated suggestions of activities or remedies which are unsuitable, harmful, or which were tried many years ago to no avail. As each of their well-meaning ideas is replied to with some form of negative, they become increasingly fed up with this apparent rudeness and awkwardness, though usually tries politely not to show it. One is quite aware of how it must all seem from inside their head, but it is not something on which they can be met in the middle, though it’s evidently the least they expect. The widespread need to look away from very difficult problems which are too difficult for many to take on board and think about - and what people are often trying to defend against with their flow of unhelpful suggestions - is also brilliantly described in Bartleby. My first emotions had been those of pure melancholy and sincerest pity; but just in proportion as the forlornness of Bartleby grew and grew to my imagination, did that same melancholy merge into fear, that pity into repulsion. So true it is, and so terrible too, that up to a certain point the thought or sight of misery enlists our best affections; but, in certain special cases, beyond that point it does not. They err who would assert that invariably this is owing to the inherent selfishness of the human heart. It rather proceeds from a certain hopelessness of remedying excessive and organic ill. To a sensitive being, pity is not seldom pain. And when at last it is perceived that such pity cannot lead to effectual succor, common sense bids the soul be rid of it. Bartleby, though, in his refusals goes beyond what would appear to be any reason: his constant quiet stubbornness takes on an existential, epic and fated quality. He can certainly symbolise a potential fate for the individual against the machine (hey kids, this is what can happen if you don’t try to fit in at work!) but his unwavering, mechanical and static approach is more machine-like than other humans around him. (It’s easy to imagine an SF version of the story in which Bartleby is a recalcitrant robot.) It is a stroke of genius to tell Bartleby’s story through the employer-narrator and to make the narrator so rich a character in his own right. The framing enables Bartleby to be mysterious and a template for countless readers. The narrator can represent social norms, employment, capital - and when so often literature is focused on those who push against or transgress norms within their stories, it’s surprisingly novel. His attempts to exercise compassion and to treat Bartleby well, and his ultimate abdication of responsibility and rationalisation of this are told with marvellous complexity. He realistically represents the limits of what most people are prepared to do, and the helpful concept of personal and professional boundaries. He actually offers a great deal to Bartleby, but the reader can never know what his limits might have been in practice, as Bartleby never takes up more than his office space and headspace. However, the narrator’s rationalisations can also sound somewhat lacking in compassion, and ultimately self-serving via their focus on his own feelings. But at the same time, what else could one actually do? (The only weak point is the narrator’s taking notice of his professional friends’ opinions about Bartleby.) The narrator’s thought processes illustrate many of the pros and cons of American self-help and therapy culture as it would develop over the 150+ years after Melville wrote the story. The prescience in a number of ways frequently astonished me: at one point Bartleby, in saying “Do you not see the reason for yourself?” can appear to foreshadow the contemporary phrase “educate yourself”, often addressed to equally mystified people in some way senior to the speaker; and the narrator’s gradual, incomplete increase in understanding one less privileged than himself chimes with the same strand of social-justice culture. Melville also gives Bartleby the dignity of self-determination and bodily autonomy; except for one or two junctures, from which he has had plenty of opportunity to escape beforehand, is he ever actually forced to do anything, and he decides his fate for himself. As such it may also be seen as a libertarian work - and therefore both reflecting and feeding into a notably, though not exclusively, American political philosophy. Now I understand why Melville is one of the greats, and it makes me keen to read more of him, in a way I never thought I would be.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ben Winch

    Wow, that was beautiful! How have I never read this before? It's as good as Kafka - as now as Kafka. This man, this Bartleby, is as basic a character as could realistically exist, yet as human. I defy you not to love him, though he barely does more than stand and stare and politely refuse to act. But I defy you not to empathise with the narrator too. This is about as pertinent as fiction gets. Bartleby is Oblomov, the Hunger Artist, Hamsun's stand-in in Hunger and Beckett's in everything from El Wow, that was beautiful! How have I never read this before? It's as good as Kafka - as now as Kafka. This man, this Bartleby, is as basic a character as could realistically exist, yet as human. I defy you not to love him, though he barely does more than stand and stare and politely refuse to act. But I defy you not to empathise with the narrator too. This is about as pertinent as fiction gets. Bartleby is Oblomov, the Hunger Artist, Hamsun's stand-in in Hunger and Beckett's in everything from Eleutheria to the 'closed room' stories. He's any sensitive soul who wants only a quiet corner and the most basic sustenance. He's the baseline - what, in an ideal world, every human being should be entitled to. They say if everyone meditated the world would be a better place. So too if every office had a Bartleby, to remind us of charity, of dignity, of peace.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kalliope

    Bartleby, To ask you for your preferences, I prefer not. Kall.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Classic story on an employee named Bartleby who prefers no to do some assignments. We get no information on his background or family status. He is pale, faceless, invisible, antisocial and worn out. A modern worker spending his days in the job machinery of the big city. His boss shows a mild side to his mannerisms. But how does the story end? Doesn't it end like the life of most of us? A modern classic. I can but highly recommend this strange piece of fiction to everyone. Great parable with lots Classic story on an employee named Bartleby who prefers no to do some assignments. We get no information on his background or family status. He is pale, faceless, invisible, antisocial and worn out. A modern worker spending his days in the job machinery of the big city. His boss shows a mild side to his mannerisms. But how does the story end? Doesn't it end like the life of most of us? A modern classic. I can but highly recommend this strange piece of fiction to everyone. Great parable with lots of wisdom to be derived for every one of us!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Agnieszka

    Bartleby. Bartleby the scrivener. Poor, inconspicuous man. Came from nowhere and disappeared in nothingness leaving us with his canonical already phrase I would prefer not to . Deceptively little reading. But don’t be deceived by appearances. It starts in truly Dickensian style. The old office where one could easily imagine the lawyers in famous Jardynce & Jardynce case and the copyists are more caricatures than real people. But Bartleby ? At first is working as mad by days and nights, diligent Bartleby. Bartleby the scrivener. Poor, inconspicuous man. Came from nowhere and disappeared in nothingness leaving us with his canonical already phrase I would prefer not to . Deceptively little reading. But don’t be deceived by appearances. It starts in truly Dickensian style. The old office where one could easily imagine the lawyers in famous Jardynce & Jardynce case and the copyists are more caricatures than real people. But Bartleby ? At first is working as mad by days and nights, diligently and conscientiously carries out his duties until asked to do something for his employer makes his modest, quiet but firm I would prefer not to . Henceforth he responses that way to everything: to threats and entreaties, to offer of better pay, to the proposal of take up residence together with the employer at his house. This phrase repeated like a mantra unsettles order in the office and peace of mind his employer as well. Bartleby responds enigmatically and remains silent and his silence is adamant and isolates him from everyone and everything as the brick wall behind the chambers. But what does it really mean ? I would prefer not to guess.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    I would prefer not to write a review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    robin friedman

    Bartleby In Retirement I first read Herman Melville's short story "Bartleby, The Scrivener" many years ago as a third-year law student. I had already become deadened with the study of law books and would leave the law late in the evenings for the large undergraduate library to read. There I found "Bartleby". With its portrayal of the drudgery of a mid-nineteenth century law office in Manhattan and of the loneliness of city life, "Bartleby" was not the most welcoming introduction to the profession Bartleby In Retirement I first read Herman Melville's short story "Bartleby, The Scrivener" many years ago as a third-year law student. I had already become deadened with the study of law books and would leave the law late in the evenings for the large undergraduate library to read. There I found "Bartleby". With its portrayal of the drudgery of a mid-nineteenth century law office in Manhattan and of the loneliness of city life, "Bartleby" was not the most welcoming introduction to the profession and culture I was about to join. Still, I had been looking forward to the career and to a life within the system, as it was called then, rather than to a life of social anger and alienation as a critic of American culture propounding the sort of critiques that were common in the 1960s and early 1970s and remain so today. I worked for several years in a large law firm and then worked for 30 years for the Federal government before retiring. In the intervening years, I thought about "Bartelby" many times and talked about it with family, friends, and colleagues. The book stayed with me, in the law office and out. I also returned frequently to other works of Melville. I recently revisited "Bartelby" in the context of reading a new book of essays about Melville in preparation for writing a review. While thinking about the essays, I decided first to set down my own thoughts about "Bartelby". "Bartleby" has become a much-read work. It is taught in college and high school and is the subject of uncountable academic commentaries. Melville's story has also entered popular culture in films and other ways. I have read in the literature about "Bartleby" but the goal is to keep the work fresh as it was when I read it and unencumbered by the commentaries that have shaped much of my other reading over the years. Melville's story is told in jargon-free language, unlike the language of many critics, but it remains enigmatic and thoughtful. Readers should tease out its meaning for themselves in their own lives. The story is narrated in the first person by a "rather elderly man", a lawyer. He is not a litigator but instead spends his time with preparing complex legal documents such as contracts, wills, or deeds. In the 1850s these documents, sometimes running into hundreds of pages, had to be laboriously copied by hand by scribes, called scriveners. The narrator has a sharp, observant, judgmental eye and describes his experiences with two scriveners and a "go-for" in his employ. When he needs another scrivener, he hires a young, tall, quiet man, Bartleby. While Bartleby first applies himself to the task at hand, he soon responds to his employer's request to perform work-related tasks with the phrase "I would prefer not to", a response that has become classic in literature. As the novel progresses, Bartleby becomes increasing obstinate and the lawyer increasing frustrated. Bartleby is homeless and is found spending his nights in the law office where he subsists on nuts and cheese. The narrator is a decent sort and tries to help Bartleby but here too he is turned away with the phrase "I would prefer not to". The lawyer is driven to find another office and Bartleby is ultimately carried away as a vagrant to the Tombs where he soon dies. The narrator hears stories of Bartleby's lost earlier life working in dead-letters at the post office. The lawyer's final observation is: "Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity"! They are words of compassion. When I read the story years ago, I saw it as showing loneliness and the sense of frustration in the lives lived by many. Melville, was not fond of the type of life he portrayed in "Bartleby". Still, the book was not entirely off-putting in its portrayal of urban life and of life in a law office. There is a sense of necessity in the book which presents its story as part of the human condition rather than as a consequence only of American culture and society which could be changed and cured. The story assumes a religious cast as the narrator reflects on his experiences, reads the various views of theologian Jonathan Edwards and scientist Joseph Priestly on the nature of necessity and thinks about the Biblical injunction: "A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another." The narrator finds a sense of compassion in his own lonely life that he hadn't had before. The story over the years I think taught me about loneliness and solitude but also about promise. I think it helped cultivate in me a sense of detachment while reinforcing the value of work and of carrying on in the everyday world in which one finds oneself which too has its value. It is a book of sadness and hope which has stayed with me. "Bartleby" finds its readers among the young. It is a story to be taken to heart individually and personally. Robin Friedman

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lee Klein

    Glad to plug this tiny gaping hole in my reading dike. Two thirds of it I read aloud to the wife and cat as one drew and the other slept, the TV on mute showing NFL divisional playoff action. The convolutions of the syntax struck me while reading aloud, backflipping cartwheeling old-timey tuxedo inversions that usually but not always landed as though Herman had hammered down each sentence with a nail. Every utterance revolved becoming spirals of articulation commencing time again with Bartleby o Glad to plug this tiny gaping hole in my reading dike. Two thirds of it I read aloud to the wife and cat as one drew and the other slept, the TV on mute showing NFL divisional playoff action. The convolutions of the syntax struck me while reading aloud, backflipping cartwheeling old-timey tuxedo inversions that usually but not always landed as though Herman had hammered down each sentence with a nail. Every utterance revolved becoming spirals of articulation commencing time again with Bartleby our friend intoning mildly his famous preference for naught. Reminded me of Kafka's "The Hunger Artist" toward the end, another allegory one could read spiritually, politically, professionally, or simply pathologically (it's hard to read this these days and not think autism spectrum disorder). It's also fun to read it in terms of the Occupy Movement, like Bartleby is passive aggressive demonstrator par excellence. From a story standpoint, Bartleby presents something more than an absurd obstacle -- like waking one fine morning to find oneself arrested or trying to gain permission from the Castle to stay in town, as with Kafka's K., the main characters' persistence as they essay to resolve the situations' absurdity accounts for the conflict and the fun. Also reminded me of Gogol's "The Overcoat," without a magical end. Recommended for anyone who works in an office: it'll make your favorite slacker colleague seem comparatively industrious. Also makes me think I might soon revisit Moby-Dick for the first time in 15 years.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gautam

    Ah Bartleby! This is one of the best short stories I have ever read. Truly deep, dark and amusing. Melville's prose is truly captivating. I would prefer not to write a complete review. 5 stars on 5! -gautam Ah Bartleby! This is one of the best short stories I have ever read. Truly deep, dark and amusing. Melville's prose is truly captivating. I would prefer not to write a complete review. 5 stars on 5! -gautam

  30. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    This novella seems to anticipate both Kafka and reflect Dostoevsky. I would say more but I prefer not to.

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