Bartleby, The Scrivener : A Story of Wall-Street
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Bartleby, The Scrivener : A Story of Wall-Street

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  18,860 ratings  ·  920 reviews
Herman Melville wrote Bartleby the Scrivener as an emotional response to the fact that his masterpiece Moby-Dick was not selling as well as he had expected. The work is said to have been inspired, in part, by Melville's reading of Emerson, and some have pointed to specific parallels to Emerson's essay, The Transcendentalist.
Although the story was not very popular at the...more
Paperback, 70 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
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Tony
I would tell you what I think of this story, but I prefer not to.
Riku Sayuj

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...more
Janice
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
Ben Winch
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
mai ahmd

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...more
Killer Rabbit
Cool Hand Luke vs Bartleby the Scrivener
The Ancient Greek aphorism to "know thyself" (γνῶθι σεαυτόν) isn't just for decorating doorways. It's for realizing when your life just isn't giving sufficient satisfaction. Here's a short quiz to see how you tend to deal with that situation:

1) If a good looking person strolls by, you...
a. Don't notice because you are staring at your office wall.
b. Imagine all the fun things that you could do with that person.

2) What do you think about nihilism?
a. "I prefe...more
Lee
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
Florencia
May 21, 2014 Florencia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Florencia by: Dolors
...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 j...more
Mariel
Nov 06, 2010 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Agnieszka
Sep 16, 2014 Agnieszka rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
·Karen·
Best ever review here (go on, it won't take long):

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

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...more
Tim
I would prefer not to write a review.
Algernon

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...more
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
Aubrey
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
Stephen P
Jun 18, 2014 Stephen P rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Brenda
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!
Noce
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...more
Nilo
Writing a review? I would prefer not to.
Mara
I picked this up after it was referenced in an episode of Archer (Skorpio, if you're curious) a method which has, in the past, introduced me to the wonders of PG Wodehouse- so I trust Adam Reed's taste.
I would prefer not to. Bartleby, the Scrivener? Anybody? Not a big Melville crowd here, huh? He’s not an easy read.


Not a big Melville crowd.

I've been on a bit of a plot-heavy reading kick of late and had forgotten just how much I love to read someone like Melville whose sequences of words unto themselves are small wonde...more
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
Travis Nagunst
Feb 29, 2008 Travis Nagunst rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the enthusiast
Another of Melville's thought provoking short stories.

Liken it to a painting. A painting that begins as a portrait as you spot if from across the room. But as you approach, the face seems to lose focus, no longer a clean portrayal. It becomes less and less clear, more and more disconcerting, as you get closer and closer, until you are certain that what was obviously a portrait can be nothing more than an abstract exercise. Your too-close inspection will yield nothing but stubborn, withholding, p...more
Guido
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
S©aP
Originalissimo racconto, ambientato nella New York del 1850. Traduzione accurata, una volta tanto; acconcia al linguaggio d'epoca. Eccellente apparato di note, recensioni, interpretazioni e commenti critici al testo. Un libretto di grande svago e lunghi pensieri. Arbitrariamente affianco a questa lettura un mio convincimento: un'effettiva e audace autonomia mentale è avvertita come minaccia in qualsiasi ...democrazia. Come minaccia, nel mondo moderno, a qualsiasi livello, viene sempre trattata....more
Jon
So a couple of weeks ago I was reading an article by Garrison Keillor, in which he described what an optimistic people we are. His example was that every year the most-bought least-read book is the Bible, primarily because we all tell ourselves we're going to read it and then quickly give up. We want, once and for all, to figure out the will of God, but after a few chapters we realize that we pretty much know the will of God and we would just prefer not to. Which of course made me think of Bartl...more
Shelley
I was very moved by this story when I read it in college. This time, I was struck by how funny it is. I'm not sure which of the two me's is more in tune with what Melville had in mind.
Sarah
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...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
A story which probably would not have been conceived had the photocopying machine been invented much earlier. The narrator is a lawyer with a law office in Wall Street. Law offices had always dealt with documents and legal documents had always needed duplicate copies. This story is set during the time when documents were still made, and recopied, by hand. And those who did these were called the scriveners.

Bartleby was one of the four scriveners who worked in the law office aforementioned. His st...more
Cristiane Serruya
Jun 29, 2013 Cristiane Serruya rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cristiane by: Brown university
First of all, I must say that I ignored that Bartleby was written by the great author of Mobi Dick, Herman Melville.
This is a short book, nonetheless SPECTACULAR, A MUST READ.
The story is recounted many years after Bartleby has died by the narrator, or may be by Melville himself.
Bartleby is admitted to be a copyist, a scrivener, in an office - peculiar by the way - where 3 employees are already working, which one has his strangeness - and the owner, who proclaims himself as a greedy man only in...more
Jimmy
Starts out funny, but ends up quite moving and deep. There's something compelling about Bartleby, his extreme composure, his unflinching yet mild refusal. There's something unnervingly inhuman about him, precisely because behind that veneer you know there is something essentially human, vulnerable, and very much like ourselves. But we are not privy to the inner life that lies behind the blank expression, and Melville wisely does not let us in on it. It's hard not to feel sorry for both the narra...more
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what does bartleby means to you? 10 119 Aug 28, 2014 05:34PM  
Essay Prompt 1 23 Oct 24, 2011 06:55PM  
  • The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg
  • Young Goodman Brown
  • The Lesson of the Master
  • The Dead
  • Selected Essays (Penguin Classics)
  • El duelo
  • The Squabble
  • A Simple Heart
  • May Day
  • A&P: Lust in the Aisles
  • The Blue Hotel
  • Sonny's Blues
  • A Hunger Artist
  • The Country of the Pointed Firs
  • Michael Kohlhaas
  • The Duel
  • The Devil
  • The Lemoine Affair
1624
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
More about Herman Melville...
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Billy Budd, Sailor Benito Cereno Billy Budd and Other Stories Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life

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“I would prefer not to.” 190 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.” 27 likes
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