This was one of my favorite novellas that I ever have read, originally in a course taught by Christine Wooley, I picked it up again this summer, when I very badly wanted to say “I prefer not to” to many work projects. This gave me a brief respite from my work. It is the story, ostensibly, of Bartelby, a scrivener (copyist for a law firm) who gradually withdraws from his job and his life as a functioning human in society.
Melville’s prose is, as always, rich in human detail, making even the cartoonish and fantastic characters in this story come alive. While reading the 19th century idioms and at times ciceronian sentences may seem to lend the story a particular gravitas to a modern reader, I’d advise everyone to take their time and enjoy how genuinely funny, sarcastic, and satirical Melville’s narrator is throughout the story (which arguably does become quite dramatic and dread-inducing).
I’d prefer you to read this.
Availability: SMCM, USMAI
Review Submitted by: Shane D. Hall
Rating: Highly Recommended