Book Review: Bartleby, The Scavenger by Herman Melville


Title: Bartleby, The Scavenger

By: Herman Melville

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 64

Release Date: December 1st, 1853

Publisher: Melville House

Rating: ★★★☆☆


Summary from Goodreads:

Academics hail it as the beginning of modernism, but to readers around the world—even those daunted by Moby-DickBartleby the Scrivener is simply one of the most absorbing and moving novellas ever. Set in the mid-19th century on New York City's Wall Street, it was also, perhaps, Herman Melville's most prescient story: what if a young man caught up in the rat race of commerce finally just said, "I would prefer not to"?

The tale is one of the final works of fiction published by Melville before, slipping into despair over the continuing critical dismissal of his work after Moby-Dick, he abandoned publishing fiction. The work is presented here exactly as it was originally published in Putnam's magazine—to, sadly, critical disdain.


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This was one odd duck of a story. I don't think I've ever read something so absurd, but so entertaining.

Bartleby is a crazy kook who does what all of us dream about doing and on a daily bases and just says no to his employer. Shock and awe. Now, to you and me we would probably be given a strong talking to and if we continued to say no, then we would probably be fired, but Bartleby's employer is so flabbergasted he just turns around and leaves.

If you could imagine this going on for days, the scene unfolding becoming even more insane, but still Bartleby says no.

Favorite Quote:

Bartleby in a singularly mild, firm voice, replied, "I would prefer not to."

I rated this book 3 out of 5 stars for its dryer writing style. I wasn't that big a fan how the whole thing played out, but the whole story was so short it was easy enough to finish.

This short story is definitely recommended as a quick hoot on a rainy spring evening.

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