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Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street [Paperback]

by Herman Melville
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 25, 2013 1480255416 978-1480255418
Bartleby, the Scrivener is the short story by Herman Melville now brought to you in this new edition of the timeless classic.

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Editorial Reviews


''Herman Melville is one of American literature's greatest figures.'' --The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English

About the Author

HERMAN MELVILLE (1819-1891) was born in New York City. Family hardships forced him to leave school for various occupations, including shipping as a cabin boy to Liverpool in 1839--a voyage that sparked his love for the sea. A shrewd social critic and philosopher in his fiction, he is considered an outstanding writer of the sea and a great stylist who mastered both realistic narrative and a rich, rhythmical prose. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumously published novella Billy Budd.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 44 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1480255416
  • ISBN-13: 978-1480255418
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I also prefer not to enter a title for my review November 25, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
A companion piece to Moby-Dick, and probably one of the most important short stories ever written, although the distinction between a "short story" and a "novella" has been blurred in recent decades. Are we going strictly by length? And if so, what is the cut off?

At any rate, this is a fantastic story, if a bit heavy for the casual reader. Bartleby, the Scrivener, is the deeply disturbing and ultimately fatalistic portrait of one man's hopeless sojourn through the rat-maze of the times, which is, in fact, all times. Bartleby, a hopeless grunt of a worker, is extraordinary only because of the implacable insistence he places on retaining his individuality in the face of Melville's almighty corporate capitalist system. He is the mouse who utterly refuses to sniff the cheese. He is the cog that dares to resist the pressures both from within and without.

A former postal worker in a dead letter office, Bartleby finds himself attached to a law firm as a copyist, once again doing work he would rather not be doing with no end in sight, until he asserts vocally that he is not going to do it any longer. Or, in his words, he "prefers not to." Come what may, he prefers not to chase the cheese any longer -- was it the time he spent with the dead letters that changed him? We don't really know, can only guess. All we know for sure is that he, unaccountably, though accepting his status as a rat (for how can he not?) does not accept his label as tool, cog, wheel, mechanism, motion, pen without will, man without mind.

He prefers not to copy, and so he does not really copy, despite the cheese, despite the fact that he must copy, that there is no other alternative in the rat maze cheese world but to copy for his due like a good little normal streetwalking human.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Office Without a View January 7, 2014
By Plume45
Melville's darkly curious novella about a mysterious stranger who refuses to leave his place of employment--even when fired--is sublty compelling; the plot gradually moves forward in small, psychological increments. This story, which could just as well have
been set in Victorian London, is related by an elderly narrator--a lawyer with two regular sciveners (legal copists) and
an office boy. But the addition of the inscrutable, pallid Bartleby creates a sensation in the small office; he quietly but simply
refuses to do anything but copy documents--eventually carrying his disobedience to passive revolt. Yet he refuses to depart; he "Prefers not" to do anything but waste away in semi-public view. How can his decent and compassionate employer remove the unwanted fellow--without resorting to crass police action?

Melville's unchaptered tale is charactereized by long paragraphs and a rich tapestry of vccabulary. Less a mstyery than one at first expects the simple plot unfolds more as a comment on the role of humanity in a social setting. How easy it would be to quell our collective conscience by institutionalizing the social misfits! This may be the first literary example of Passive Resistance. With no clear-cut villain in this odd tale readers are left in moral disquiet; thought-provoking reading for insightful readers.

(January 8, 2014)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Resemblance to Kafka`s Trial June 25, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Black humor is all over the story, Bartleby embodies the lifeless characters we see everyday absorbed by paperwork. His boss tries to ascertain the trouble behind B. and becomes quite paranoid from time to time. Only in Kafka I have seen such disappointment of life, such indifference and lack of strength to escape from bureaucratic misery.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read December 18, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The story is recounted many years after Bartleby has died by the narrator, or may be by Melville himself.
Well, this is Wall Street.
Bartleby is admitted to be a copyist, a scrivener, in a peculiar office, btw - where 3 employees are already working, each one has his strangeness - and the owner, who proclaims himself as a greedy man only interested in working with the rich men bonds.
To my surprise and, in my opinion, the owner is gentle - not kind - extremely polite, incapable of violence and is too much drawn to the weirdness of his employees, respecting each one of them (which for me, as an owner, would be rather impossible).
Bartleby uses 'I prefer not to', each time he is asked to do something that he is not copying. It's in my opinion, rather then a negation of what his employe demands, an assertion of his human choice.
Just to add some fire to this discussion, when Bartleby prefers not to, he pushes others onto doing something as he will not. As he affirms gently and kindly he prefers not to, or rather, as he hold forth his , making someone do it for him because the World and, specially Wall Street cannot be stopped.
Imagine, for just a moment, if the trio in the office do the same as Bartleby, or even the lawyer, if they prefer not to, what would happen?

He simply preferred not to just because Melville wanted the narrator - and us - to think about the possibility of someone who doesn't exist - or who doesn't want to exist - from the beginning because he affirms instead of negates that he preferred not to.

In fact, this is not a refusal, traced back to its Latin etymology praefero, the first meaning was "to bear before, to carry in front, to hold forth." And, later it was included the meanings of "to offer, to present.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars eBook format has its advantages
As with other eBooks, I appreciate the advantage to use a platform where a dictionary can be accessed merely by tapping a word, or where Wikipedia can be speedily opened for... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Michael Ipavec
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
I thought this was a great book. I had to read it for class and I am glad it was assigned to me.
Published 12 days ago by Amber
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic story
Classic story written mid-XIX. Resembles of Dickens by setup. But it's is strongly Melville's by language. Oh Bartleby, oh humanity.
Published 18 days ago by Kate Middlesex
4.0 out of 5 stars SUPER
if you want a book filled with action and excitement, this is the obvious choice. WARNING: if you are easily excited, this book will most likely kill you.
Published 1 month ago by KlownPrince
2.0 out of 5 stars Weird
I feel like I should appreciate this more it being a classic but I get the distinct impression that something flew way over my head. Read more
Published 1 month ago by reit
This version is a desktop production of 39 photocopied computer printed pages. Quite flimsy. While other editions are actual 'paperbacks' as I identify them; they're all going for... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Roy Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth a second read
I'm definitely going to be reading this again. My first Herman Melville, his technique in writing is fun for the reader.
Published 2 months ago by Brian D
5.0 out of 5 stars Real World Management Lesson
This is a meaningful story by one of the greatest writers of all time. Every manager should read it. All managers will eventually be forced to deal with a difficult employee. Read more
Published 4 months ago by John Gilbert Sorenson
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved It
Bartleby is a strange fellow. Circumstances of life make challenges that some people may hold onto until death. Read more
Published 6 months ago by K. Townsend
4.0 out of 5 stars Really quite good
I had head about this book for years, and figured I should finally read it. The author notwithstanding, it was not tedious or anything! I quite liked it.
Published 6 months ago by Snipe
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