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Benito Cereno/Bartleby

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  1,907 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
In this collection readers will find three of Herman Melville's most popular shorter works, "Benito Cereno", "Bartleby: The Scrivener", and "The Encantadas". Considered to be one of Melville's best short stories, "Benito Cereno" is a tale of the revolt aboard a Spanish ship. "Bartleby: The Scrivener" is a moral allegory set on Wall Street in New York. And "The Encantadas" ...more
Nook, 0 pages
Published by Neeland Media (first published 1855)
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Jun 13, 2013 Dolors rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the ones who fight back
Recommended to Dolors by: the voices
Shelves: read-in-2013
To a sensitive being, pity is not seldom pain. And when at last it is perceived that such pity cannot lead to effectual succor, common sense bids the soul be rid of it. Bartleby, the Scrivener

Life glues us together in ways we can’t anticipate, obliging us to broaden our individual frames of reference in order to imagine the other, overcoming our self-centered blindness.
That inevitable interconnectedness is most plausible in Melville’s most enduring and intriguing short novellas Bartleby, the S
N.T. Embe
Oct 04, 2011 N.T. Embe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy tales morbidly dense and difficult to get through.
Recommended to N.T. by: American Literature of the 19th Century (Class)
Shelves: education
This book, with its two stories, Bartleby and Benito Cereno, is not what I expected. What a dense read! For a book just barely making it over the 100-page mark, it took me forever to will myself through it! Look at the difference between the start date and the finish for this one! Every time I picked it up I felt like I was being forced to swallow lead, or to walk a mile in a pool of TAR. I felt like I was getting nowhere, anywhere, and fast. And, to my frustrated and wry surprise, I got exactly ...more
Poet Gentleness
Jul 17, 2013 Poet Gentleness rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Poet Gentleness by: Brown University
Shelves: classics, beauties
I absolutely loved reading Bartleby. I haven't had the opportunity of reading Melville's novels before and I was greatly impressed by his work.
I cannot do this review without spoiling quite completely the story. So, be warned! ;)
(view spoiler)
Jul 20, 2015 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Summer of Melville continues...

This is the third or fourth time I've read Bartleby, and it's as wonderful as ever. One of my very favorite short stories. The maddening stubborness of Bartleby, the well-meaning helplessness of the narrator, and the heartbreaking conclusion just never get old for me.

I had some reservations approaching Benito Cereno for the first time, having struggled for seven weeks to get through Moby-Dick. (A rewarding experience, but one I really don't care to repeat.) The
Jun 24, 2013 Travis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
These to stories challenge the traditional and fixed definitions of good and evil.

Benito Cereno and Babo are enslaved to their roles and cannot escape them. Which characters are moral? Can anything about a slave revolt at sea be moral? Violence only leads to more violence. It is difficult to tell whether Melville is making a statement about the injustice of slavery, or if he is portraying a cruel and unjustified rebellion.

It is hard to view the slaves’ cruel and bloody mutiny as just; yet their
What's sad is these stories have so much potential. The points they make could be really powerful, IF they were better developed. Both stories, in my opinion, were not very well written or structured. In English class, we painfully overanalyzed Melville's frequent use of double negatives in Benito Cereno, but we didn't even take into account that he used a ton of them in Bartleby too! How do we know that they aren't not un-a-part of his writing style? And, would it kill the guy to use a few more ...more
Mr. Bauer
Benito Cereno is great. I love the suspense, anticipation, and the way Melville conveys his statements about society very subtly.

Bartleby the Scrivener is rather strange. Again, Melville is certainly making a statement about society, particularly the new economic situation in America as it became more industrialized and capitalistic. I actually read this in college and had to analyze it from the point of view of each of the major schools of literary theory. Not fun!
David Freeman
Jan 08, 2010 David Freeman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i prefer not to
Ryan Madman Reads & Rocks
I can totally relate to Bartleby. Most office jobs suck.
I'm not sure how best to enter this since the book I read was two short stories. If they were thematically linked... I guess it was more or less lost on me.

Of the two I found Bartleby to be the more difficult read. Difficult in the sense that it didn't grab my attention. In both stories I feel like I only barely scratched the surface in my initial readings.

I'm not really sure what to make of Bartleby and his steadfast preferring not to. The narrator and his cast of variously incapable assistant
Of the two stories in this novel, I only read Benito Cereno. At first I felt like I couldn't understand anything. Every sentence was roundabout and convoluted, full of commas and phrases that could have been arranged in a much more straight-forward way. The turns of the phrases just seemed so awkward, and I just couldn't get used to Melville's writing style. I kept thinking to myself, why does Melville keep making me wait until the end of the sentence to figure out the point of it?

The more I tho
Joel Ortiz-Quintanilla
The first short story in this collection is a very great tale. It is the tale of Barleby, the scrivener. Its a tale, or an allegory, i don't know which, but a story of a business man who hires this scrivener, a copyist, who is good at his job, but one day decides the doesn't want to do the job anymore. Then the words come out, 'I'd prefer not to...' which is wonderful. I would have loved to tell some of my bosses i'd prefer not to, when they told me to do something. I would have been fired, i th ...more
Mark Samuel
Mar 27, 2011 Mark Samuel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review of Bartleby only:

I love this story. The inescapable logic of Bartleby's anti-social "preferences" is quite profound. A great deal of the story is missed if the reader merely has pity on Bartleby or dismisses his decisions as wrong-headed. Unless the reader asks the question, "Why precisely are Bartelby's decisions bad ones?" a wonderful oportunity for introspection on one's own pre-suppositions about the purpose of existence will be lost. In my view, Bartleby is the logical conclusion to
Oct 26, 2012 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults
Amazing volume of two Melville novellas! You will not be disappointed - Bartleby, an "absurdist" tale of a clerk who refuses to work or leave the premises, as seen through the "hyper-correct" eyes of his employer. Details take you right in to the world of 19th C commercial NYC - you can practically hear the quill pens scratching away on paper! Finely wrought, "humorous" (in its own way) story of NY - definitely recommend. Cereno is a much darker tale - actually, much, much darker. Not to give aw ...more
Jun 27, 2016 1.1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bartleby is a profound classic and also a lighthearted lark, so I suppose it makes sense to place it in juxtaposition to Benito Cereno, which is far more serious and dark in tone.

I will never dislike reading Bartleby since it is simply a very amusing and spirited story – Melville clearly enjoyed writing it and winks at the reader throughout. I sped through, and discovered a new appreciation for it I hadn't had nine years ago - very rewarding, very playful, and not a little poignant as well.

Aug 05, 2013 Kristi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Melville and I have a complicated relationship. He was undoubted brilliant and a great writer. His work is much deeper, and more complex and nuanced than it often appears on the surface of a first reading. The enjoyment of reading Melville is for me personally in the subsequent analysis of it. The reading of it, however, (for me) feels like slow and deliberate torture. I often beg and plead for him to get the point. Sometimes it seems he goes on and on saying the same thing, or mundane details t ...more
Nov 29, 2016 Danny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This text combines two short stories of Herman Melville's. Both short stories are quite dense and unimpressive.

First, Herman Melville's "Bartleby" is presented. This short story, in the end, is a dense, unneeded story. When you get to the end of the story, you realize that you have just wasted your last hour and a half reading a story with no point or interesting plot. Oftentimes, Melville uses a large vernacular just to flaunt his ability to use such high vocabulary, even though it adds nothing
Feb 11, 2008 Bap rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read Benito Cereno in college. This novella based on a true event can be read on several different levels. It can be seen as a naive American captain coming upon a Spanish ship in a state of distress carrying a cargo of slaves. On one level, it is a desperate and ruthless group of slaves who have revolted and taken the ship, attempting to deceive the American captain. On another level, the slaves are freedom fighters seeking to get provisions in order to sail back to Senegal and freedom. ...more
Dec 23, 2015 Syd rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was so excited to read this, but God, it was tedious. I haven't read anything else by Melville, but I'm not going to go anywhere near Moby Dick after this. At least in these stories, Melville has an unbearable tendency to draw out the plot's buildup for the first 95% of the story, slip the resolution in in half a page, and then spend the last bit of the story with the characters morosely reflecting on how there was no actual resolution. I don't like action-packed stories, and I enjoy stories w ...more
Jul 27, 2013 Dylan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Collection of two very different Melville stories. The first, Bartleby, is somewhat frustratingly open-ended. It's the sort of story high school English teachers love (and most students probably hate) - ornate language, philosophical allusions, and symbolism to which any number of meanings might reasonably be ascribed. All that from one of the giants of American literature! Should fit nicely into any syllabus. I liked it a lot, almost entirely because it was funny. Benito Cereno I liked less. Th ...more
Haley Baker
Behind the complex analysis of how Americans choose ignorance over accountability, Herman Melville tells a story about Amaso Delano who is a slave owner on a slave ship undergoing a slave revolt. The catch of the novel is that Delano does not know that the slave revolt is happening. The story can be depicted a three fold analysis; Delano doesn't know what's occurring on the ship, he won't ever see what's happening because he chooses ignorance, and lastly, he can't see what's going on because he ...more
Andy Lee
Dec 20, 2007 Andy Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Benito Cereno was the book that made me realize that I was a good reader. This novella is a precursor to the modern day whodunit. I don't know what made me read so closely, but I guess Melville commands that in his prose.

Here, Melville proves that he is a master with words. There are no superfluous words. Each description is placed perfectly with a purpose. I tackled Moby Dick after reading Benito and Bartleby, and found Moby Dick to be overly dense and not entirely engaging.

I don't want to spoi
Aug 22, 2013 Ke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: law-literature
On Bartleby
It is interesting how this story can handle poignancy and witticism. Even though Bartleby's replies became expected, the tale always took interesting turns.

In my opinion, there were some inconsistencies with the narration and the secondary characters, but they didn't really have weight on the story itself.

On Benito
I found this book more racially-charged than most of Melville's other works, because it is about slavery. That said, it still touched on maritime and legal themes.

I had a ha
Mar 05, 2007 Melissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thenovella
Benito Cereno is a novella with a very strange form. It begins with narration from the point of view of Captain Delano, an American out at sea who comes upon the stranded ship of Captain Benito Cereno. Cereno tells him that the ship has been struck by disease and the bad luck of calm seas, but something strange is going on.

The mystery of the plot is offset by the abrupt switches in point of view, from a first person narration of the events to an official record of the events. Despite this, it's
Brian Murray
This is my first venture with Melville, and he is surprisingly readable. His writing is good but not overly difficult and dry (as is characteristic with much of 19th century literature) and he has a surprising talent for plot. These two stories felt compelling, even if they don't amount to much. Melville does, however, have a bad habit for meandering with repetitive scenes and random tangents. It stops these stories from being excellent. Still, I am pleasantly surprised. Suddenly, that great whi ...more
Aug 26, 2014 Allison rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Melville fans
Recommended to Allison by: Suzanne Cadwell
I didn't read both of the novellas contained in this book. I read Benito Cereno. It was good in the way I find all of Melville's works to be good. He uses a large vocabulary with many word which are rarely or no longer used in the 21st century. That is a quality I admire in his work. However, as with other larger works of his, I felt like he could have used about half as many words to communicate the same story more clearly. And, yet, that was the style of prose in his time so I suppose it is po ...more
Peter Dunn
Aug 19, 2014 Peter Dunn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Benito Cereno is in itself an interesting tale of an unusual rebellion on a slave ship, and it is made all intriguing by being closely based on the story of a real slave rebellion aboard a Spanish merchant ship over 50 years earlier in 1799. However it is Herman Melville’s almost Kafkaesque but infuriatingly funny tale of Bartleby The Scrivener that shines brightest in this duo of Melville stories. This tale deserves be as well-known as that other Melville story about a whale fixation.
I could s
Darran Mclaughlin
OK, but not up to my expectations. Bartleby is such a famous story that I was expecting it to be better than it was. It reads something like a Kafka or Gogol story, but a bit less strange. The introduction of my edition interprets Benito Cereno as being a statement about the iniquity of the slave trade. It didn't really strike me as being anything more than a story written to explore the dramatic effects of a tense situation in real time. I didn't see that the racial issues were the point of the ...more
Jan 08, 2009 Tyler rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Short Story Fans
Recommended to Tyler by: Author's Reputation
Shelves: 19th-century
For Bartleby, 5 stars; for Benito Cereno, 1 star.

Bartleby has everything in it to make an excellent short story of the kind I like, edgy tales that include works like A Nasty Story by Dostoyevsky. Melville's power of the pen is remarkable. This is striking literature condensed into a neat little packet.

Benito Cereno showed off the same exquisite prose, but for me the suspense was so drawn out I lost interest, and the denouement was a lifeless recitation of facts.
I should have known better than try Melville as Moby Dick is on a very short list of books I couldn't make it through. Luckily these are two short stories, but even then I found myself skimming the last story. Too much detail about inconsequential things. Both books seemed to have less than intelligent main characters. At least the first one was humorous in convincing himself his cowardice was really Christian compassion. the second one was just obvious and bizarre and several pages too long.
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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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