Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville
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An aging lawyer hires a new copyist to help with his firm’s workload, and at first he finds himself pleased with his new employee. Bartleby is quiet, efficient and he doesn’t display any of the loud eccentricities of the firm’s other two copyists, Nippers and Turkey. But one day, when the lawyer asks Bartleby if he will help him compare copies, Bartleby simply replies, “I would prefer not to.” As time goes by and Bartleby’s strange refusals multiply, the lawyer becomes increasingly dumbfounded and Bartleby’s apathy escalates into the ridiculous.

“Bartleby, the Scrivener” is an amusing tale by Herman Melville, author of Moby-Dick, which has been studied and interpreted in countless ways over the years. Some scholars claim that the character of Bartleby is a response to American transcendentalism, while others suggest that he reflects Melville’s disillusionment with his writing career. Whatever the case, “Bartleby, the Scrivener” has become one of the most famous early American short stories, paving the way for other absurdist literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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About Herman Melville

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Herman Melville (1819-1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet who received wide acclaim for his earliest novels, such as Typee and Redburn, but fell into relative obscurity by the end of his life. Today, Melville is hailed as one of the definitive masters of world literature for novels including Moby Dick and Billy Budd, as well as for enduringly popular short stories such as Bartleby, the Scrivener and The Bell-Tower.
Published January 28, 2014 by HarperPerennial Classics. 59 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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The New York Review of Books

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Jul 16 1981 | Read Full Review of Bartleby, the Scrivener: A St...

Fiction Writers Review

Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize.

Dec 31 2011 | Read Full Review of Bartleby, the Scrivener: A St...

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