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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Herman Melville - Bartleby the Scrivener, 24 Nov. 2009
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
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I love novellas. I adore being able to read an entire book in a sitting (and I often find not enough meat on the bones of a short story). Short works have a cut-and-thrust unlike longer books, they tend to make a fatal strike rather than a series of sustained blows. I like the way they work. The need they leave for more (well, good ones). This is such a novella.

One day, an umambitious lawyer on wall street, happy to take on the simple cases rather than chase the heavy money, requires to take on a fourth clerk. A man called Bartleby presents himself, and gains employment. After days of sucessful, dutiful, admirable toil of copying documents, the narrator requests that he read over another piece of work to check the accuracy of the copy. Bartleby replies, "I would prefer not to", and returns calmly to his desk.

The narrator is baffled, knows not how to react, and leaves the matter. It continues, Bartleby politeley refuses to do anything other than copy. And this is the main nugget of the story, it flows from this. It is a fascinating story, it is exceptionally well-written, and it is oddly moving, to observe this strange charachter, who the narrator assumes must be infused with some strange dignity; we never know the real reason for his refusal: Bartleby is a blank canvas upon which any motive might be painted, and the reader is free to do so, and create any history for him, to conjour any assumption about his character or opinions or life that they wish, and that is partly which it's so powerful.

I loved this. It's an enigmatic story, it's an unnerving story (there are times when it is itchily echoes Poe's "The Raven", with his "nevermore" and bust of Pallas), it is sometimes a sad story. I've never read a tale so dependent on the reader's interpreatation of a character, that gives the reader so much power to invest their own perceptions and thoughts. Personally, I enjoyed reading it immensely,and was moved by it. Anyone who appreciates the art of the novella (as this new, beautifully produced series caters for) should not hesitate in buying this.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest joys to read ever written, 27 Aug. 2007
This very accomplished short story is rightly regarded as being one of the very best ever written. It has a literary feel to it while being just a (fairly long but way short of novella length) short story. Written about the same time as Dickens' more famous short story (more of a novella) 'A Christmas Carol', this book also paints a picture of one man's humanity. But there the likeness ends, as this story is a complete departure from the literary norm of their day. It is oblique, not quite abstract, but is deliberately vague about the background and persona of its very unusual main character. There is no great plot here, unlike the afore mentioned story, it is merely an account by the narrator of a few weeks in his life when he had the acquaintance, at work, of a very queer fellow indeed. It won't enlighten you further as you find yourself desperate to find out more about this mystifying stranger but by the end you'd have realised there may not be anything more about him to know. He is such a thin, almost empty, ghost like character, but Bartleby must be one of the most deeply intriguing and captivating characters ever created, as far as I'm concerned. His sad demise is almost inevetible, but this produces the enormous pathos this book is noted for, as you can tangibly feel the narrator's contained, quiet despair at having lost such a gentle companion, and his regret for this harsh world not having room for people like Bartleby. This tiny little story is TRULY IMMENSE. Highly recommended to those who've not yet had the pleasure of reading this quiet masterpiece.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'I Would Prefer Not To', 13 Jan. 2011
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This short story is one that I have never tired of reading over the years. Now that I have got this version on my kindle I can have a good read anywhere. I must admit that I have also never met anyone who hasn't liked this tale.

Our narrator already employs some eccentric characters, but when he decides he needs another scrivener he employs Bartleby. Bartleby will only do his copying, he won't help anyone else or do anything that would even be to his advantage, his stock reply being, 'I would prefer not to'. Gradually our narrator feels haunted by Bartleby, as he finds that he is living on the premises, and cannot be got rid of. Even when the narrator comes up with a plan, he is still not free.

This tale is arguably years ahead of what others were producing at the time and is Kafkaesque. You will end up laughing out loud at the whole absurdism of this.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I hated Moby Dick - I loved this, 28 Nov. 2011
By 
J. Willis (London) - See all my reviews
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Bartleby is hired by a lawyer (who narrates the story) to work as a scrivener in the lawyers office along with the two existing scriveners. Bartlebys job is to hand-copy documents (in the days before photocopiers) sometimes over and over. One day when Bartleby is asked by his boss to do something, he replies 'I prefer not too' and he goes onto repeat this phase every-time he is required to do anything causing ciaos in the office.

This story had me feeling quite a few emotions over the course of its 40 or so pages. At first I felt the frustration of the lawyer as he deals with a man who will not leave this office (even at night or the weekend) and refuses to do anything apart from stare out the window. I mean what would you do if a co-worker did this? because the phrase 'I prefer not too' is not technically an outright refusal.

Of course the most obvious answer would be of course to sack him which the lawyer attempts to do only to be confronted by the hilarious reply 'I would prefer not to quit you'. It was at this point I began to find the whole thing quite funny and I laughed when Bartleby uttered his phase as his boss grew more and more frustrated. I also found it funny when the narrator at a complete loss decides to move his office just so that he does not have to face Bartleby again.

Towards the end however the story took on a more darker turn and when the story ended I felt sad about its inevitable ending, but it also had me thinking about what it all meant. After pondering it for a few weeks I have come to my own conclusions but have also realised compassion and responsibly are major themes and that the story is as much about the narrator as it is Bartleby. The narrator attempts to understand and help Bartleby and shows humanity towards him when a lot of other people would have walked away, but of course there is only so much one human being can do for another and unfortunately the narrator reaches that limit.

I also personally see it as a tale of how soul destroying working in an office can be (or to put it more intellectually and essay like; a story of corporate discontentment and how this environment affects the human condition). The office where the story takes place is small and the windows look out onto a sheer brick-wall which is what Bartleby stares at all day long. The work Bartleby does at the beginning is monotonous, he is not fully engaging his brain but instead doing the same repetitive task until one day he stops. Even at the end of the story when Bartleby has the opportunity to look at more of a view, he instead would rather stand inches away staring at a wall. The narrator also concludes at the end that Bartlebys condition was either caused or exasperated by his previous employment working at the dead letter office.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A funny tragedy, 29 April 2012
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Like an earlier reviewer, I couldn't get through Moby Dick [hundreds of pages with nothing happening!] but this packs a lot into a 'long short story' and I love it.
At first it seems an unambiguously humourous account of the narrator's quirky legal office and his three oddball underlings - one of whom is irascible until he has his lunch when he becomes a model worker while another is excellent in the morning but incapable following his liquid lunch.
So when Bartleby is taken on and his initially perfect work record comes to be blemished by his "I would prefer not to" and as this attitude spreads out across his life like a stain, one is tempted to see this all too in an amusing absurdist light.
But at some point the story shades off into tragedy and humane concern for Bartleby's existential plight and irreversible disengagement from the world.
It occurs to me that Bartleby might not have been a complete figment of Melville's imagination as it is in many ways a well-observed sketch of Asperger's syndrome. Many details seem to fit such as Bartleby's meticulously perfectionist work, his ideosyncratic intelligence, his lack of social engagement or awareness, his habit of standing staring out of the window at a brick wall and his paring down of his world to, eventually, even less than it's essentials.
Anyway, that's neither here nor there - it's a warm funny humane sad [and short!] book and worth every penny of £0:00.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A No worth many a Yes., 4 Sept. 2014
By 
Mr. G. Morgan "wes" (Haywards Heath, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bartleby the Scrivener (Tale Blazers) (Paperback)
A classic, "I would prefer not to" speaks as eloquently as "'Umble" identifies Uriah Heep. This is as enigmatic a story as Melville's friend, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, which is saying something. Bartleby, significantly, is a scrivener so anyone seeing in this an allegory of the artist cannot be far wrong, especially when Melville's masterpiece failed spectacularly. His rich and lapidary style restrained a little, he tells this simple story of a worker whose work lessens until a brutal refusal confronts us; he would RATHER not. Like his boss, we are left with this enigma: why? By this time Melville was past simple, indeed any, answers and the suppressed mystic in him can be divined here. It is a powerful fable, a refusal to accommodate by both character and author. Melville was broken by the failure of 'Moby Dick' and this pot of ink in the face of the public is one 'answer' in this startling enigma. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A CLASSIC., 10 Aug. 2013
By 
Dodo "Spara Fugle" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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Very depressing, but a fascinating insight into human psychology.
Don't read this if you have the blues.
The scrivener is surrounded by a screen that cuts him off from human contact a lot. He stares through his window at a brick wall.
He is taken to prison where he coils up in the foetal position and starves to death.
It is a bundle of laughs that examines negativity and depression.
'I'd prefer not to.' is his constant refrain.
Sound like someone you know?
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5.0 out of 5 stars I could say much more in praise of Bartleby The Scrivener, however, I would prefer not to……, 19 Aug. 2014
By 
P. J. Dunn "Peter Dunn" (Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bartleby the Scrivener (Tale Blazers) (Paperback)
Melville’s almost Kafkaesque but infuriatingly funny tale of Bartleby The Scrivener shines brightest of all among Melville's stories. This tale deserves be as well-known as that other Melville story about a whale fixation.
I could say much, much more in praise of Bartleby The Scrivener, however, I would prefer not to……
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5.0 out of 5 stars ., 12 April 2013
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Who wouldn't be delighted to find the public domain list of FREE classic literature. This is fantastic. All the titles I've always wanted to read and for free - this is my kind of kindle heaven. I love the way they arrive on your kindle, they're so quick, it's like magic. Thank you public domain!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Free will, 24 July 2013
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This review is from: Bartleby the Scrivener (Tale Blazers) (Paperback)
I would prefer not to,but if you are of school age find out about the Bartleby project,it might change your life for the better forever .Start looking on utube
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Bartleby the Scrivener (Tale Blazers)
Bartleby the Scrivener (Tale Blazers) by Herman Melville (Paperback - Sept. 1980)
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