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Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street (Paperback)

Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street By Herman Melville Cover Image
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Description


Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street is a short story by the American writer Herman Melville (1819-1891). The narrator, an elderly Manhattan lawyer with a very comfortable business helping wealthy men deal with mortgages, deeds, and bonds, relates the story of the strangest man he has ever known. At the start of the story, the narrator already employs two scriveners, nicknamed Nippers and Turkey, to copy legal documents by hand. Nippers (the younger of the two) suffers from chronic indigestion, and Turkey is an alcoholic, but the office survives because in the mornings Turkey is sober and Nippers is irritable, while in the afternoons Nippers has calmed down and Turkey is drunk. Ginger Nut, the office boy, gets his name from the little cakes he brings the two scriveners. An increase in business leads the narrator to advertise for a third scrivener, and he hires the forlorn-looking Bartleby in hopes that his calmness will soothe the temperaments of Nippers and Turkey. At first, Bartleby appears to be a boon to the practice, as he produces a large volume of high-quality work. One day, though, when asked by the narrator to help proofread a copied document, Bartleby answers with what soon becomes his stock response: "I would prefer not to." To the dismay of the narrator and to the irritation of the other employees, Bartleby performs fewer and fewer tasks around the office. The narrator makes several attempts to reason with him and to learn something about him, but Bartleby offers nothing but his signature "I would prefer not to." One weekend the narrator stops by the office unexpectedly and discovers that Bartleby has started living there. The loneliness of Bartleby's life impresses him: at night and on Sundays, Wall Street is as desolate as a ghost town, and the window in Bartleby's corner allows him no view except that of a blank wall three feet away. The narrator's feelings for Bartleby alternate between pity and revulsion. Scrivener (or scribe) was a Middle English term for a person who could read and write. This usually indicated secretarial and administrative duties such as dictation and keeping business, judicial, and history records for kings, nobles, temples, and cities. Scriveners later developed into public servants, accountants, lawyers and petition writers.

About the Author


Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 - September 28, 1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick. His first three books gained much contemporary attention (the first, Typee, became a bestseller), but after a fast-blooming literary success in the late 1840s, his popularity declined precipitously in the mid-1850s and never recovered during his lifetime. When he died in 1891, he was almost completely forgotten. It was not until the "Melville Revival" in the early 20th century that his work won recognition, especially Moby-Dick, which was hailed as one of the literary masterpieces of both American and world literature. In 1919, the unfinished manuscript for his novella Billy Budd was discovered by his first biographer. He published a version in 1924, which was quickly acclaimed by notable British critics as another masterpiece of Melville's. He was the first writer to have his works collected and published by the Library of America.


Product Details
ISBN: 9781482739671
ISBN-10: 1482739674
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: March 10th, 2013
Pages: 56
Language: English