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"I would prefer not to." --- Herman Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener
"Ah, happiness courts the light so we deem the world is gay. But misery hides aloof so we deem that misery there is none." --- Herman Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener
"Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" (1853) is a short story by the American writer Herman Melville, first serialized anonymously in two parts in the November and December editions of Putnam's Magazine, and reprinted with minor textual alterations in his The Piazza Tales in 1856. Numerous essays are published on what according to scholar Robert Milder "is unquestionably the masterpiece of the short fiction" in the Melville canon. Reception
Though no great success at the time of publication, "Bartleby the Scrivener" is now among the most noted of American short stories. It has been considered a precursor of absurdist literature, touching on several of Franz Kafka's themes in such works as "A Hunger Artist" and The Trial. There is nothing to indicate that the Bohemian writer was at all acquainted with the work of Melville, who remained largely forgotten until some time after Kafka's death.
Albert Camus, in a personal letter to Liselotte Dieckmann published in The French Review in 1998, cites Melville as a key influence.