Bartleby the Scrivener

( 4 )

Overview

The narrator of this tale of corporate discontent is an elderly lawyer who runs a profitable business handling the official financial paperwork of wealthy men. He hires Bartleby, a dispirited-looking notary, as an additional member of his staff. One day Bartleby is asked to proofread one of the documents he copied to which he simply replies that he would prefer not to. This is only the first of many refusals to the narrator's dismay and the disapproval of the other employees. Bartleby continues to participate ...
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Bartleby, the Scrivener

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Overview

The narrator of this tale of corporate discontent is an elderly lawyer who runs a profitable business handling the official financial paperwork of wealthy men. He hires Bartleby, a dispirited-looking notary, as an additional member of his staff. One day Bartleby is asked to proofread one of the documents he copied to which he simply replies that he would prefer not to. This is only the first of many refusals to the narrator's dismay and the disapproval of the other employees. Bartleby continues to participate less and less in the office work. The narrator makes many efforts to deal with him, but Bartleby refuses to perform his duties. Soon he is not working at all, and since the narrator cannot get him to leave, he moves his offices to a new location to avoid a wasted reputation. But Bartleby takes up a kind of residence at the old place, and the new tenants ask for the narrator's help. When Bartleby is forced out of the offices, he roams the hallways. The narrator makes one final attempt to reason with him, but Bartleby rejects him. The narrator is away from work a few days, and when he returns he discovers that Bartleby has been put in prison. The narrator visits him there, finding him more sullen than usual. He bribes a guard to make sure he is well fed. The narrator returns a few days later to learn that Bartleby has died, having preferred not to eat. This well-written treatment has made Bartleby one of literature's most forsaken characters, illustrating life's tiring and rigorous process, full of deadening compromises and obedience to inconsequential labor
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781161423303
  • Publisher: Kessinger Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 5/23/2010
  • Pages: 40
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Herman Melville
Herman Melville's legend is as mammoth and elusive as the whale that established it. The author's Moby-Dick; Or, The Whale stands as one of literature's greatest epics, a story of mythological proportions that was grounded in real life and a new way of storytelling. Melville's work, underappreciated in its time, remains as much subject to debate and interpretation as it was when he first caught the public eye with his South Seas adventure, Typee, in 1846.

Biography

Herman Melville was born in August 1, 1819, in New York City, the son of a merchant. Only twelve when his father died bankrupt, young Herman tried work as a bank clerk, as a cabin-boy on a trip to Liverpool, and as an elementary schoolteacher, before shipping in January 1841 on the whaler Acushnet, bound for the Pacific. Deserting ship the following year in the Marquesas, he made his way to Tahiti and Honolulu, returning as ordinary seaman on the frigate United States to Boston, where he was discharged in October 1844. Books based on these adventures won him immediate success. By 1850 he was married, had acquired a farm near Pittsfield, Massachussetts (where he was the impetuous friend and neighbor of Nathaniel Hawthorne), and was hard at work on his masterpiece Moby-Dick.

Literary success soon faded; his complexity increasingly alienated readers. After a visit to the Holy Land in January 1857, he turned from writing prose fiction to poetry. In 1863, during the Civil War, he moved back to New York City, where from 1866-1885 he was a deputy inspector in the Custom House, and where, in 1891, he died. A draft of a final prose work, Billy Budd, Sailor, was left unfinished and uncollated, packed tidily away by his widow, where it remained until its rediscovery and publication in 1924.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Date of Birth:
      August 1, 1819
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      September 28, 1891
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Attended the Albany Academy in Albany, New York, until age 15

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2012

    A fantastic story. A true classic from Herman Melville. Really e

    A fantastic story. A true classic from Herman Melville. Really enjoyable.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 17, 2012

    To: Mr. Rowe, English 11 Herman Melville’s "Bartleby

    To: Mr. Rowe, English 11
    Herman Melville’s "Bartleby the Scrivener" mixes comedy and reality with absurdity and superfluous behavior. Bartleby, the main character, is a unique individual who has complete disconnect from reality. His oblivious behavior and style is a testament to this. He eats nothing but chestnuts and has no engagement with sleep. On the contrary, he keeps the book interesting by displaying his lack of respect toward authority. He would “prefer not to”.
    The story is based upon the theme of absurdity with reality. Bartleby was chosen by the narrator, a law firm owner, to be his assistant scrivener (law copier) because of his work ethic and reposed behavior. However, unfortunately Bartleby decides to stay content with doing nothing, literally nothing; standing in the corner of the room all day and night. It is recommended that this piece of literature be on your bucket list as a part of America’s great and iconic literary works. Melville truly captured absurdity in "Bartleby the Scrivener".

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2014

    Big surprise!

    The writing is NOTHING like Moby Dick. Really an interesting short story!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    Recommended but not though this site

    Unfortunately, I was never able to open the book once I paid for it. This seems to be an ongoinng problem when I purchase anything through this site. I was forced to go elsewhere and purchase the book in paperback. The book itself was very good.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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