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Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  25,312 Ratings  ·  1,355 Reviews
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 unsett ...more
ebook, 36 pages
Published November 1st 2012 by Start Publishing LLC (first published 1853)
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Jan 11, 2014 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would tell you what I think of this story, but I prefer not to.
Riku Sayuj
Mar 20, 2013 Riku Sayuj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual, r-r-rs

Ah, Bartleby. Ah, Humanity.

At first, as I tried to contain my surprise that Melville, who awed me in Moby Dick, was now writing with such humour and lightness, I felt that Bartleby was a Heroic figure, someone to be admired and emulated - and a welcome break from the complicated characters of the doomed ship.

On second thought, with a slight sinking feeling, I felt he might be a Romantic figure, someone to be eulogized and applauded.

Then, still upbeat about the simplicity of the novella, I was su
Bill  Kerwin

What a pleasure it is to return to a work of genius and find it inexhaustible! What a host of insights, what a web of subtleties, are contained within this short account of the breakdown of one man in a five man office!

I think of Melville the sailor, accustomed to wide sea vistas and many sea duties, recoiling at the confined, reduced lives of New York City office workers. I think of Melville the innovative writer, his popularity—and income—waning as his daring increased, contemplating the act o
I could ask you to look beyond your desk if you are at work or peep down your balcony if you are at home and spot a Bartleby.
But I would prefer not to.
I could urge you to frame that calamitous Bartleby whose 'selective' inveterate muteness is either enhancing your tolerance reserves or sharpening your fighting skills.
But I would prefer not to.
I could exhort you to unsuccessfully debase this Bartleby’s assiduity in light of his proven peculiarity.
But I would prefer not to.
I could ask
Jun 25, 2015 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nov 02, 2012 Janice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a public seminar on Herman Melville’s short story, Bartleby, the Scrivener, given by Paul Auster and Nobel Laureate, JM Coetzee, hosted by the NYS Writer’s Institute. Because I am a huge nerd, I sat in the very front of the venue space (the first two rows of the theater were reserved for Writer’s Institute people), so I was in the third row. But Auster and Coetzee sat directly in front of me before the seminar started!! Swoon! I’ve never felt “st ...more
Jun 02, 2015 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013

I can see that figure now -- pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn! It was Bartleby.

One more on my reading list that comes from a Goodreads tip. Thanks again, folks! I've read it in an hour or so, but I believe it will stay with me for a lot longer.
I had to check twice the year this novella was first published : 1853!!! I couldn't wrap my mind around how modern and fresh and relevant the story of Bartleby, the human xerox machine, still is. Decades before Franz Kafka or Eugene
Ben Winch
Oct 09, 2012 Ben Winch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, anglo
Wow, that was beautiful! How have I never read this before? It's as good as Kafka - as now as Kafka. This man, this Bartleby, is as basic a character as could realistically exist, yet as human. I defy you not to love him, though he barely does more than stand and stare and politely refuse to act. But I defy you not to empathise with the narrator too. This is about as pertinent as fiction gets. Bartleby is Oblomov, the Hunger Artist, Hamsun's stand-in in Hunger and Beckett's in everything from El ...more
Aug 15, 2015 Florencia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Florencia by: Dolors
Shelves: favorites
...happiness courts the light, so we deem the world is gay; but misery hides aloof, so we deem that misery there is none. (15)

I see a blurred silhouette. There is a person sitting at table. He is writing. He doesn't look up. Nobody could have ever seen his face. It's been hours and he doesn't get up. A man, a chair, a table and a million papers. The spitting image of desolation. Does he have any life outside that place? Probably not.
I hope he does.

I read about this particular theme concerning

To ask you for your preferences, I prefer not.


mai ahmd
Nov 10, 2013 mai ahmd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: روايات

أفضل أن أبقى ساكنا

هذا نوع من الأدب الذي أحبه العبثية تحديدا مع جرعة لذيذة من الدعابة لا أدري لم لم أسمع عن الكتاب قبل ذلك حقيقة لا أظن إنه يقل مستوى عن غريب كامو وهو
قريب من مسرح اللامعقول بشخصياته الغريبة الأطوار ..

من هو بارتلبي إنه نساخ ذا سلوك غريب ينضم لمكتب محاماة من أجل نسخ الوثائق القانونية .. الراوي هو رئيسه في العمل
يجلس بارتلبي في زاوية ويباشر النسخ لكنه يرفض
أن يؤدي أي عمل آخر وفي أول بادرة لتلقي الأوامر والإستجابة لها نجد بارتلبي صاحب الوجه الشاحب والمثير للقلق يقول : أُفضّل أل
Sep 16, 2014 Agnieszka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Agnieszka by: Florencia

Bartleby . Bartleby the scrivener . Poor , inconspicuous man . Came from nowhere and disappeared in nothingness leaving us with his canonical already phrase I would prefer not to .

Deceptively little reading . But don’t be deceived by appearances . It starts in truly Dickensian style . The old office where one could easily imagine the lawyers in famous Jardynce & Jardynce case and the copyists are more caricatures than real people . But Bartleby ? At first is working as mad by days and nigh
Dec 18, 2010 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would prefer not to write a review.
Jan 13, 2013 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Glad to plug this tiny gaping hole in my reading dike. Two thirds of it I read aloud to the wife and cat as one drew and the other slept, the TV on mute showing NFL divisional playoff action. The convolutions of the syntax struck me while reading aloud, backflipping cartwheeling old-timey tuxedo inversions that usually but not always landed as though Herman had hammered down each sentence with a nail. Every utterance revolved becoming spirals of articulation commencing time again with Bartleby o ...more
Nov 06, 2010 Mariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fugitives
Recommended to Mariel by: my mom
We used Bartleby to get out of doing things our mom wanted us to do. "I'd rather not..." It worked. If we wanted money we'd channel Samuel L. Jackson in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever. "They say I got the job! I just need a hundred dollars." (If she was being tightfisted we'd throw in his "little gator dance" and sing "I like getting high uh huh!") Eventually she caught on and we'd reenact the scene from Reservoir Dogs when Mr. Pink knows he didn't do it, he knows Mr. White didn't do it, and he's "fuc ...more
Ah Bartleby!

This is one of the best short stories I have ever read. Truly deep, dark and amusing. Melville's prose is truly captivating.

I would prefer not to write a complete review.

5 stars on 5!

Jun 23, 2013 ·Karen· rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 19th-century, usa
Best ever review here (go on, it won't take long):

How on earth could this have been written thirty years before Kafka was even born? The adjective should be Melvillesque.

On careful examination, I found that mostly Bartleby says 'I would prefer not to', which, it seems to me, is a reaction to a specific situation. But then he begins to say (though not always) 'I prefer not to' which seems more like a fundamental attitude, a permanent stance. Which might be
Emilian Kasemi
Bartleby is the Bachelor, about whom Kafka said, "He has only as much ground as his two feet take up, only as much of a hold as his two hands encompass" - someone who falls asleep in the winter snow to freeze to death like a child, someone who does nothing but takes walks, yet who could take them anywhere, without moving. Bartleby is the man without references , without possessions, without properties, without qualities, without particularities: he is too smooth for anyone to be able to hang any ...more
I can understand why the Occupy movement took to this book so well. The titular character after a while does nothing but occupy his chosen workplace, in a sort of calm refusal to acquiesce to anyone's demands that would be the envy of any peaceful protester. There is a certain elegance to Bartleby's constant response of 'I would prefer not to' to any demand made of him, especially when it not only makes those who talk to him respect his wishes, but even causes the word 'prefer' to crop up more i ...more
Carmo Santos
Primeiro pensei que fosse estrangeiro e não entendesse a língua...
Ou que fosse surdo...
Ou só teimoso...
Ou só parvo...
Ou então muito esperto...
Depois apeteceu-me aplicar-lhe um pontapé no traseiro e pô-lo dali para fora...
De seguida, fazer-lhe festas e levá-lo para casa, como a um cachorro abandonado...
E perdi a paciência e quis gritar com ele...
E quis levá-lo para casa e dar-lhe mimos...
Ou um par de estalos...
E deu-me vontade de chorar por ele...
E continuei a querer levá-lo para casa
Oct 16, 2015 Carla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O enigmático, pálido e fantasmagórico Bartleby… Um símbolo do que a vida tem de mais insondável.

Esta é a história de um ratinho que corre incessantemente numa roda, até deixar de o fazer por uma questão de preferência (dele? De outros?). É então que o ratinho se vê sozinho e consagra-se a um rumo firme e decidido. Opta, inabalavelmente, por impor as suas preferências e fá-lo até ao limite, como se de uma missão se tratasse. Até a sociedade se intrometer.

Penso que se Bartleby se olhasse ao espelh
Jun 23, 2011 Noce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Come farsi odiare dai recensionisti seri, ossia come fare recensioni facendo gossip sulle vecchie conoscenze.

Insomma il punto è questo.
Quando facevo l'Università, abitavo con una ragazzetta bionda e tonda. Quando arrivava a casa, aveva sempre il sorriso, ti aiutava in qualsiasi cosa tu stessi facendo.
Stavi lavando i piatti, ma avevi fretta perché dovevi andare a lezione?
Arrivava lei e ti diceva: "Lascia, faccio io". E li lavava al posto tuo.
Dovevi andare a fare la spesa, ma stavi litigando a
Stephen P
Jun 18, 2014 Stephen P rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephen by: Garima
Shelves: re-read
A haunting Melville tale of mirrors and doubles, forcing the reader to face the hollowness of life and contradictions of a writerly existence. The imagery is not one of bookish images. Here they are embedded as Melville intended. There are no preparations, cosmetics of after-thought. There will be no fade of memory or conflicting convolutions. This is not a tattoo parlor. His characters, who also find themselves wrapped in a Robert Walser like cage of passivity-a wonder to see how the two great ...more
May 22, 2015 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tulsa Doom: Bartleby the Scrivener, contemplate this on the tree of woe.

Bartleby the Scrivener: I would prefer not to.

Melville as a pre-existentialist, good read, and funny, also a precursor to absurdist theater, it reads like a long joke, I was left waiting for the punch line

K.D. Absolutely
Absurd. Imagine you are working in the office and your boss is telling you some projects to do for him and you answer him back: "I would prefer not to." You will lose your job, right? Here in the story of Bartleby who is a scrivener, just refuses to do anything in the office. He just stay there and turns the office into a bachelor pad. The boss is first curious and he pleads and tries his other workers to influence Bartleby. When everything seems not to work, he transfers his office to another p ...more
May 29, 2013 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, read-in-2013
Preferiría leer este libro otra vez. Una y mil veces. Preferiría olvidar que lo he leído y que cada vez que me acerque a él sea la primera vez. Preferiría saberlo todo sobre Bartleby, pero también preferiría no saber nada.
¡Oh Bartleby! ¡Oh humanidad!
Questo è un racconto perfetto, non si può far meglio di così. La tranquilla ostinazione di Bartleby non può non far pensare a un problema sociale: a me piace pensare la sua ribellione come una tragica ricerca di libertà e indipendenza. Per quanto questa interpretazione possa sembrare banale, quando leggo altre possibili spiegazioni basate sull'analisi della personalità di Bartleby sento che sarebbe ingiusto nei suoi confronti affermare che è lui ad avere dei problemi, e non le persone che lo cir ...more
Nov 18, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's about capitalism, with Bartleby functioning as a Jesus-like figure. The subtitle reads, “A Story of Wall-Street". Walls, of all kinds, are a reoccurring theme in this story.

Bartleby is humanity, itself: life, death, and singularity. His difference, or disability, his adamant presence exposes the lawyer for what he truly is and arguably transforms him. I read this because a book I'm currently reading (about autism) discussed it at length. I've also heard it referenced on numerous other occas
Aug 14, 2015 Miguel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Que palavra congratulatória se pode utilizar para elogiar Bartleby ? Pergunto eu, a quem esteja apto e capaz de me responder. Eu procuro nas ruas esconsas da linguagem um vocábulo que epitome toda a minha disposição, mas encontro uma infinidade de adjectivos que me deixa zonzo e aturdido. Se preferir a abstinência, estarei a vedar o meu entusiasmo. Se escrever, estarei a falsear e desvirtuar a minha admiração.

Bartleby é um profundo e breve conto que condensa o mundo moderno: o farisaísmo
Feb 17, 2015 Ana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“And storms are formed behind the storm we feel (…)” (Herman Melville)
Bartleby o escrivão mais estranho do mundo…é um homem de preferências…
Prefere não fazer…
Prefere não ir…
Prefere não sair…
Um ser humano silencioso e abandonado, que se abandona da vida.
Este livro fez-me sorrir muitas vezes. No final, deixou-me o coração muito apertado.
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what does bartleby means to you? 11 165 Dec 02, 2014 01:16PM  
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Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. His first two books gained much attention, though they were not bestsellers, and his popularity declined precipitously only a few years later. By the time of his death he had been almost completely forgotten, but his longest novel, Moby-Dick — largely considered a failure during his lifetime, and most responsible for ...more
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“I would prefer not to.” 236 likes
“Ah, happiness courts the light so we deem the world is gay. But misery hides aloof so we deem that misery there is none.” 31 likes
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