This is a short story about a lawyer with offices on Wall Street in New York City. He runs an advertisement for a scrivener, or professional copyist, for his office and Bartleby responds to his advertisement and comes to work for the lawyer. At first Bartleby appears to be a competent worker, but later he refuses to work when requested, repeatedly uttering the phrase “I would prefer not to.” As Bartleby’s behavior escalates, the lawyer is confronted with how he will handle and respond to this bizarre behavior.
In 2001, the story was adapted into a movie titled “Bartleby”.
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Herman Melville was an American novelist, essayist and poet. During his lifetime, his early novels were popular, but his popularity declined later in his life, until at the time of his death he had nearly been forgotten.
Melville’s most famous work was Moby-Dick and is often considered one of the greatest American novels. His short story “Bartleby the Scrivener” is among his most important pieces, and has been considered a precursor to Existentialist and Absurdist literature. In the 20th century there were several biographies about Melville and his vision by prominent writers, which started a rediscovery of his works and led to his current status as a significant American Writer.