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Bartleby and Benito Cereno (Illustrated) [Kindle Edition]

Herman Melville
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $3.00
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Book Description

This edition includes 10 illustrations. Herman Melville published his stories Bartleby and Benito Cereno in 1853 and 1855, respectively; both stories feature a man exhibiting odd behavior, though for very different reasons. Bartleby is the story of a copy clerk sinking into a quagmire of passivity to the dismay of his generous but dismayed employer; and Benito Cereno is the captain of a Spanish ship which is crewed by slaves and where not everything is apparently as it seems. While Melville is considered an epic storyteller thanks to his novel Moby Dick, these two short stories reveal the author’s mastery of that form, too.

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Herman Melville towers among American writers not only for his powerful novels, but also for the stirring novellas and short stories that flowed from his pen. Two of the most admired of these—"Bartleby" and "Benito Cereno"—first appeared as magazine piece and were then published in 1856 as part of a collection of short stories entitled The Piazza Tales.
"Bartleby" (also known as "Bartleby the Scrivener") is an intriguing moral allegory set in the business world of mid-19th-century New York. A strange, enigmatic man employed as a clerk in a legal office, Bartleby forces his employer to come to grips with the most basic questions of human responsibility, and haunts the latter's conscience, even after Bartleby's dismissal.
"Benito Cereno," considered one of Melville's best short stories, deals with a bloody slave revolt on a Spanish vessel. A splendid parable of man's struggle against the forces of evil, the carefully developed and mysteriously guarded plot builds to a dramatic climax while revealing the horror and depravity of which man is capable.
Reprinted here from standard texts in a finely made, yet inexpensive new edition, these stories offer the general reader and students of Melville and American literature sterling examples of a literary giant at his story-telling best.
Dover (1990) republication of standard texts of works originally published in The Piazza Tales, 1856. Note to Dover Edition.

About the Author

Herman Melville (1819 1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd. His first three books gained much contemporary attention (the first, Typee, becoming a bestseller), but after a fast-blooming literary success in the late 1840s, his popularity declined precipitously in the mid-1850s and never recovered during his lifetime. When he died in 1891, he was almost completely forgotten. It was not until the "Melville Revival" in the early 20th century that his work won recognition, especially Moby-Dick which was hailed as one of the literary masterpieces of both American and world literature. He was the first writer to have his works collected and published by the Library of America.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1376 KB
  • Print Length: 139 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1619493799
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,431 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lawyer aids a scrivener who ends up in an asylum! November 22, 1998
By A Customer
Herman Melville spins a great tale that's easy to read. It's a story about five men, and the main character is just as much the narrator as it is Bartleby. The narrator is an attorney who hires three people to work for him, and each one is a real character. All the men are described in great detail, and they are terrific thumbnail character sketches that will stay in your memory bank for years to come! The last man employed is Bartleby, and he is really a strange duck! Bartleby is an excellent copier of legal documents, and initially he does a fine job. However, as the story progresses Barleby acts very strange. He responds with the words, "I'd prefer not to," when asked to proof-read manuscripts, and this response continues whenever the narrator, his boss, asks him perform the ususal office tasks such as going the the post office or doing small errands. The climax of the story comes when the narrator finds Bartleby in the law office getting dressed one Sunday morning. It appears that Bartleby is using the office for his lodging, and the narrator later comes across his personal belongings and shaving kit. As the story progresses, Bartleby does less and less work, and soon he's nothing more than a fixture in the law offices. When the narrator dismisses him and pays him a salary plus a tip, Bartlby refuses to leave. Finally, the narrator is about ready to go crazy -- the man won't leave. So, the narrator moves his law practice to another location and leaves Bartleby at the former work site. The end of the story describes Bartleby in the Tomb, and asylum. Rumor has it that Bartleby was once employed as a clerk in a Dead Letter Office, and this seems to explain his forlon state. Read more ›
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Haunting Stories from the American Master October 15, 2000
I must respectfully disagree with the Boston reader who asserts that Bartleby is "a case study in clinical depression." That's definitely one way to interpret the story, but it defuses a great deal of the tale's power. If we believe that Bartleby is simply a victim of mental illness, we might begin to believe that if only doctors had Prozac in the 19th Century, poor old Bartleby would have chippered up and gone home dancing.
Bartleby's refusal, his famous "I prefer not to," seems more like a deliberate and sane NO. People did know what depression was back then (though it was generally called melancholia, instead). Bartleby's condition (our condition?) is something much deeper, much more terrifying-- the possibility that one can observe the world from a completely rational mind and decide that participation is not worth it.
If we decide that Bartleby's problem was depression, must we call Kurtz a paranoid schizophrenic? All of Beckett's characters could use a Xanax prescription, because they seem pretty bleak, too.
Bartleby is fascinating because of what we don't know; Melville is the great American exploiter of Negative Capability, Keats's term, defined as "when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason."
It is because Melville is willing to refrain from that "irritable reaching after fact and reason" that Bartleby (and Benito Cereno and Moby-Dick) is a story that lingers in the imagination. If we knew why the man simply quit the business of life, if we knew it was a deficiency of chemicals in his brain or whatever, we would not be so haunted by his fate.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychological mysteries March 9, 2001
These two tales are very different, but both of them are deep and acute penetrations into the human psyche. The first one, "Benito Cereno" is about a mutiny on board of a ship. This ship is navigating astray, off the coast of Chile (which is NOT in Central America, as other reviewers have embarrasingly said), when Captain Delano, an American sailor, observes it. He gets near the suspicious ship, gets on board of it, and finds an extremely tense and enigmatic situation. Wonderfully, Melville chose to describe the situation only through the senses of Captain Delano. As the narrator is not omniscient, we only know what Delano knows, so we understand his confusion and amazement at the strange facts he observes. We share his vacilations, speculations and changes of opinion before the disconcerting behavior of Captain Benito Cereno. This makes the reader stay interested all through the story, like he was there being part of it. The unexpected ending will solve the mystery, but only partially.
What's best about this story, even more than the smart plot, is the author's technique. He puts the reader right in the middle of the action. Just like in life, where we have no narrator telling us what the rest of the characters are doing "meanwhile". We only know what we learn from our senses, hopefully processed through reason.
The second tale, "Bartleby the scrivener" follows a technique similar to that of "Benito Cereno", but within a very different context and plot. It's narrated in first person by a good-hearted and charitable Wall Street lawyer (I guess times have changed)who hires a young and silent man as a copyist (that is, before Xerox, the guy who made manual copies of legal documents).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book. Excellent service. Thank you.
Published 1 month ago by Edward H. Winston
2.0 out of 5 stars yuckski
Very disappointing. Bruce convinced me to read it, and it sucked. Who the hell can read Melville, anyway? Gimme a break. That whale coulda been pink.
Published 6 months ago by doctorgus
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
as promissed
Published 7 months ago by Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars Strange and spooky stories
Glad I read them. Lots of food for thought in Bartleby. Lots of drama and history in Benito Cereno. Read more
Published 9 months ago by D. Montano
4.0 out of 5 stars For a course
I purchased this for a course, read it for the course, and will probably never read it again. But it is classic Melville so I was happy to cross it off my literary bucket list.
Published 14 months ago by WWJAD
5.0 out of 5 stars SPECTACULAR, A MUST READ. (This review is for Bartleby)
The story is recounted many years after Bartleby has died by the narrator, or may be by Melville himself.
Well, this is Wall Street. Read more
Published 15 months ago by CRAS
3.0 out of 5 stars Ordered it for a class, but that's about it.
My rating isn't really an indication that this is a BAD book, but rather that it's really not my cup of tea. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Eric Pavlik
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for AP Lit
This dense, rich (albeit short!) text is terrific for use in the AP Literature classroom. It generates excellent discussion, and helps students gain an understanding of what kind... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Katherine I Schmitt
5.0 out of 5 stars Two very different Melville stories
I think the Bartleby story is a classic. I've read it several times and every time, I come up with a different analysis. Benito Cereno is less known and rather surprising.
Published 20 months ago by Jane Newhagen
4.0 out of 5 stars Bartleby and Benito Cereno
I loved Bartleby. Fascinating story about an early 20th century wall st rebel. Benito Cereno was a little harder to read stylistically but also a very good story.
Published 20 months ago by Amazon Customer
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