Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street
18 Installments—Entirely free
A lawyer places an ad for a new clerk and gets far more than he bargained for in Herman Melville’s 1853 novella Bartleby the Scrivener. The unnamed narrator of the tale is a successful attorney whose firm employs a few mostly competent clerks, or scriveners. As the story opens, the time has come to get some extra help, so the attorney advertises for a new employee. A young man named Bartleby, who seems rather quiet and unassuming, responds. Thinking that he will fit in well with the rest of the office, the narrator hires him. Things seem to be going well until one day when, after he has been asked to proofread a document, Bartleby refuses, saying that he would “rather not.” Perhaps he was having a bad day, the narrator concludes, and shrugs off the incident. As days go by, however, Bartleby continues to refuse to help out, doing less and less around the office. As the frustrated attorney begins to look into what might be causing his employee’s bizarre behavior, he realizes that Bartleby is a much stranger man than he ever could have imagined.
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Herman Melville (1819-1891) was an adventurous and free spirit who used his own experience aboard a whaling vessel as inspiration for his masterpiece, Moby Dick. A daring traveler, he took to the high seas for much of his life, ultimately in search of a life less ordinary. The free-wheeling spirit that marked these early adventures defines the amusing, wild, and roving style of Melville's most famous writings, including Typee, Bartleby, Billy Budd: Sailor, and The Confidence Man. Melville's unusual life led to many long-held misunderstandings of his genius. It was only in the twentieth century that he was recognized as an invaluable figure in American literature.Back to top
Opening Lines (Experimental)
BARTLEBY, THE SCRIVENER.
A STORY OF WALL-STREET.
I am a rather elderly man. The nature of my avocations for the last thirty years has brought me into more than ordinary contact with what would seem an interesting and somewhat singular set of men, of whom as yet nothing that I know of has ever been ...
Reviewed by dreamdust on Aug 24, 2012
People who dare not approach Moby Dick, adore this work. And with good reason, considering when it was written it is timeless and so unique.
Reviewed by legalbs2 on Jan 22, 2009
A slow and nonsensical shortstory. Sad and leaves reader wondering why she continued after the first installment.
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Ratings for 'Bartleby the Scrivener' by Melville, Herman