Bartleby, the Scrivener

( 4 )

Overview

Bartleby the Scrivener (1853), by Herman Melville, tells the story of a quiet, hardworking legal copyist who works in an office in the Wall Street area of New York City. One day Bartleby declines the assignment his employer gives him with the inscrutable "I would prefer not." The utterance of this remark sets off a confounding set of actions and behavior, making the unsettling character of Bartleby one of Melville's most enigmatic and unforgettable creations.
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Bartleby The Scrivener (Illustrated)

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Overview

Bartleby the Scrivener (1853), by Herman Melville, tells the story of a quiet, hardworking legal copyist who works in an office in the Wall Street area of New York City. One day Bartleby declines the assignment his employer gives him with the inscrutable "I would prefer not." The utterance of this remark sets off a confounding set of actions and behavior, making the unsettling character of Bartleby one of Melville's most enigmatic and unforgettable creations.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Audio
01/27/2014
When the nameless narrator—an elderly Manhattan attorney—hired another scrivener named Bartleby, he hoped the new employee would have a positive effect on scriveners Nippers and Turkey. However, Bartleby’s curious tendencies and obstinate attitude plagued and confounded the narrator. Lackey turns in a workmanlike performance in this audio edition of Melville’s famous story. His emphasis and delivery will keep listeners engaged, and he lends distinctive voices to the characters. His rendering of Bartlebly’s famous repeated line, “I would prefer not to,” captures the matter-of-fact delivery emphasized in the text. However, Lackey’s voice sounds a bit too young for story’s narrator. Still, this is an enjoyable take on the classic tale. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781624069376
  • Publisher: Dreamscape Media
  • Publication date: 10/15/2013
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 - September 28, 1891) was an American novelist, writer of short stories, and poet from the American Renaissance period. The bulk of his writings was published between 1846 and 1857. Best known for his sea adventure "Typee" (1846) and his whaling novel "Moby-Dick" (1851), he was almost forgotten during the last thirty years of his life. Melville's writing draws on his experience at sea as a common sailor, exploration of literature and philosophy, and engagement in the contradictions of American society in a period of rapid change. Melville's way of adapting what he read for his own new purposes, scholar Stanley T. Williams wrote, "was a transforming power comparable to Shakespeare's".

Born in New York City, he was the third child of a merchant in French dry-goods who went bankrupt. After the death of his father in 1832, his formal education stopped abruptly and the young man briefly became a schoolteacher. He then signed on as a common sailor for a merchant voyage to Liverpool in 1839. A year and a half into his first whaling voyage, in 1842 he jumped ship in the Marquesas Islands, where he lived among the natives for a up to a month. He described these experiences in his first book, "Typee" (1846), a best-seller, as was the sequel, "Omoo" (1847). The same year Melville married Elizabeth Knapp Shaw; their four children were all born between 1849 and 1855.

In August 1850, Melville moved to a farm near Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he established a profound but short-lived friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne. "Moby-Dick" (1851) was not welcomed by readers or reviewers, and the cool reception of "Pierre" (1852) put an end to his career as a popular author. From 1853 to 1856 he wrote short fiction for magazines, collected as "The Piazza Tales" (1856). In 1857, Melville voyaged to England and the Near East and "The Confidence-Man" appeared, the last prose work published during his lifetime. From then on Melville turned to poetry. Having secured a position of Customs Inspector in New York, his poetic reflection on the Civil War appeared as "Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War" (1866).

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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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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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