The Silence of Bartleby

Overview

In The Silence of Bartleby, Dan McCall proposes a new reading of Herman Melville's classic short tale "Bartleby, The Scrivener." McCall discuss in detail how "Bartleby has been read in the last half-century by practitioners of widely used critical methodologies—including source-study, psychoanalytic interpretation, and Marxist analysis. He argues that in these elaborate readings of the tale, the text itself may be lost, for critics frequently seem to be more interested in their own concerns than in Melville's. ...
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Overview

In The Silence of Bartleby, Dan McCall proposes a new reading of Herman Melville's classic short tale "Bartleby, The Scrivener." McCall discuss in detail how "Bartleby has been read in the last half-century by practitioners of widely used critical methodologies—including source-study, psychoanalytic interpretation, and Marxist analysis. He argues that in these elaborate readings of the tale, the text itself may be lost, for critics frequently seem to be more interested in their own concerns than in Melville's. Efforts to enrich "Bartleby" may actually impoverish it, preventing us from experiencing the sense of wonder and pain that the story provides.McCall combines close readings of Melville's tale with a lively analysis of over four decades of commentary, and he includes the complete text of story itself as an appendix, encouraging us to read the story on its own terms.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A sensitive and responsive work of criticism . . . . McCall's critical perspective is shaped by the experience of being a producer, as well as a consumer, of literary performance. His pages, at their best, resemble an extended preparatory meditation or prologue to reading, an instructive service performed by one artist on behalf of another, whose work appears to invite the solicitous eye of a fellow craftsman. . . . An accomplished novelist in his own right, McCall—like the long list of artist-critics whose work has played such a formative role in the development of American literary study—adapts his compositional experience and instincts to the role of an accomplished reader. . . . At the end of his book, McCall sets aside his own mediator's role to reprint Melville's story. The Silence of Bartleby dramatizes the extraordinary vitality of attentive reading and then steps aside to allow its own readers to practice their rejuvenated powers on a masterpiece."—Douglas Anderson, American Literary History

"The single most sensitive response to Melville's genius since Warner Berthoff's The Example of Melville."—Andrew Delbanco

"McCall's book is alive and bright and sane . . a breath of fresh air."—Milton R. Stern, author of The Fine-Hammered Steel of Herman Melville

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801495939
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 7/20/1989
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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