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Bartleby the Scrivener

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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.

64 pages, Paperback

First published December 1, 1853

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About the author

Herman Melville

1,864 books3,797 followers
There is more than one author with this name

Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. His first two books gained much attention, though they were not bestsellers, and his popularity declined precipitously only a few years later. By the time of his death he had been almost completely forgotten, but his longest novel, Moby Dick — largely considered a failure during his lifetime, and most responsible for Melville's fall from favor with the reading public — was rediscovered in the 20th century as one of the chief literary masterpieces of both American and world literature.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,136 reviews
Profile Image for Tony.
919 reviews1,556 followers
August 13, 2016
I would tell you what I think of this story, but I prefer not to.
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.9k followers
November 2, 2020

What a pleasure it is to return to a work of genius and find it inexhaustible! What a host of insights, what a web of subtleties, are contained within this short account of the breakdown of one man in a five man office!

I think of Melville the sailor, accustomed to wide sea vistas and many sea duties, recoiling at the confined, reduced lives of New York City office workers. I think of Melville the innovative writer, his popularity—and income—waning as his daring increased, contemplating the act of writing considered in itself as a bleak task performed for money. I think of Melville the prophet, warning of the starkness of the coming metropolis and the small brutalities of cubicle capitalism.

I also marvel at the literary landscape which flows past the windows of this tale, for Bartleby, though it speeds non-stop from the village of Dickens to Kafka Terminal, yet gives us a glimpse of the cities of Dostoevsky and Zola, their chimneys darkening sunset in the hills beyond.

But the truth which haunts me is how precisely Melville delineates how we all survive--or do not survive--our workaday worlds. Either we reduce our personalities to caricature and numb ourselves through substance abuse (the clerks Turkey and Nippers) or we deceive ourselves through a pattern of benign neglect disrupted by fits of compassion (the Manhattan lawyer). Otherwise we are doomed to be Bartleby, dismantling ourselves little by little, uttering—in small “I prefer not to” portions—The Everlasting No.
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
656 reviews7,104 followers
March 20, 2013

Ah, Bartleby. Ah, Humanity.

At first, as I tried to contain my surprise that Melville, who awed me in Moby Dick, was now writing with such humour and lightness, I felt that Bartleby was a Heroic figure, someone to be admired and emulated - and a welcome break from the complicated characters of the doomed ship.

On second thought, with a slight sinking feeling, I felt he might be a Romantic figure, someone to be eulogized and applauded.

Then, still upbeat about the simplicity of the novella, I was sure that he was meant to be an Ironic figure, someone to be understood and assimilated.

Soon, as the comic aspects faded into melancholy and unexpected depth started invading the short narrative, I started feeling that he might instead be intended as an Absurd figure, someone to be pondered and puzzled over.

Towards the end, as I too devolved with the spirit of the poor man, I felt that he must certainly be a Tragic figure, someone to be pitied and parodied.

Finally, along with the narrator, I was on the brink of concluding that he is a Villainous figure, someone to be excluded and ostracized.

But, in the end, in the tragic and evasive end, the novella had proved itself to be anything but simple and he was none of this and all of this, of course. He was probably the essential human present in the most inscrutable of strangers, in the inner life of the other. He might also be the scion of capitalism, a representation of its many wonders, and an idle, early sacrifice at the altar of pacifism and non-violence. He was some mysterious combination of the heroic and the ironic, and the rest too, in all probability - of the incongruous and the inevitable. A Gandhi without an audience.

He was Bartleby, the Scrivener.

I would prefer not to classify or understand him any further. It will be too discomforting.
Profile Image for oyshik.
219 reviews692 followers
July 11, 2021
Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville

I would prefer not to. In the story, a lawyer hired a clerk but he preferred not to do any work. Now the interesting part is how the lawyer would handle him. That's a magnificent story about sympathy and depression. The beauty of the book is the way it develops. From a rather jovial, common description of office life, the story suddenly takes a twist to a sad story. Brilliant concepts and insights still fitting for today. Sometimes a character out of a book will stick with you. And this book has the full capability to create that influence
Ah, happiness courts the light so we deem the world is gay. But misery hides aloof so we deem that misery there is none.

Ah, humanity!
Profile Image for Luís.
1,945 reviews610 followers
March 30, 2023
In 19th century New York, a lawyer with two temperamental employees hired Bartleby as a copyist in his small office. At first, very active in his work, Bartleby refused one day to collate his writings until he did nothing more with his days.
Bartleby the Scrivener is the story of a man who decides to stop. Stop copying, stop talking, and stop living. But he stops with infinite politeness: "I would prefer not to." As much for the reader as Bartleby's employer, this politeness is disarming, who struggles in vain to understand the strange attitude of his employee.
Why does Bartleby decide one day to stop everything? Because he doesn't want to play other men's games anymore? Because his previous job took away his identity? The author does not give us all the keys; the mystery remains for everyone to find their answer.
This novel is fabulous because Melville forces the reader to reflect on his existence through Bartleby's and delve deep into himself. It is an experience as scary as it is exciting.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
August 17, 2021
Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street, Herman Melville

Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street is a short story by the American writer Herman Melville, first serialized anonymously in two parts in the November and December 1853 issues of Putnam's Magazine, and reprinted with minor textual alterations in his The Piazza Tales in 1856.

In the story, a Wall Street lawyer hires a new clerk who, after an initial bout of hard work, refuses to make copy or do any other task required of him, with the words "I would prefer not to". The lawyer cannot bring himself to remove Bartleby from his premises, and decides instead to move his office, but the new proprietor removes Bartleby to prison, where he perishes.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «ترجیح میدهم که نه»؛ «بارتلبی محرر و چند داستان دیگر»؛ نویسنده: هرمان ملویل؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و سوم ماه دسامبر سال 1979میلادی و بار دیگر در روز بیست و هفتم دسامبر سال 2015میلادی

عنوان: بارتلبی محرر و چند داستان دیگر؛ نویسنده: هرمان ملویل؛ مترجم: هوشنگ پیرنظر؛ تهران، آگاه، 1357؛ در 132ص؛ موضوع: داستانهای کوتاه از نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 19م

عنوان: ترجیح میدهم که نه؛ بارتلبی محرر و چند داستان دیگر؛ نویسنده: هرمان ملویل؛ مترجمها: گروه مترجمان نیکا؛ گزینش و ویرایش: پویا رفویی؛ تهران، نشر نیکا، 1390، 191ص؛ چاپ دوم 1393؛ شابک 9786005906257؛

در این داستان وکیلی از «وال استریت»، دفترداری را استخدام می‌کند، او پس از کوشش و کار چند روزه، برای رونوشت‌برداری، یا انجام هرکار یا وظیفهٔ دیگری، که به او واگذار می‌شود، سر باز می‌زند؛ آن‌هم هربار، با گفتن جملهٔ «ترجیح می‌دهم نکنم»؛ کتاب «ترجیح می‌دهم که نه» کتابی است که به کوشش جناب آقای «پویا رفویی»، و با ترجمه ی جناب آقای «کاوه میرعباسی»، در سال 1390هجری خورشیدی، در نشر «نیکا» منتشر شده، و شامل داستان «بارتلبی محرر»، و سه جستار فلسفی است؛ «ژیل دلوز»، فیلسوف فرانسوی در یکی از آخرین مقاله‌ های خود، با عنوان «بارتلبی، یا یک فرمول» به این داستان «هرمان ملویل» پرداخته، که با ترجمۀ جناب آقای «شهریار وقفی پور» در این کتاب موجود است، جناب آقای «امیر احمدی آریان» نیز، مقاله‌ ای از «ژاک رانسیر» با عنوان «دلوز، بارتلبی و فرمول ادبی» را ترجمه کرده اند، که در آن به بررسی و روشن کردن دیدگاه «دلوز»، درباره ی همین داستان «بارتلبی»، پرداخته شده است؛ عنوان مقاله ی سوم کتاب، «بارتلبی، یا در باب حدوث» است، که در آن «جورجو آگامبن» وجوه دیگر همین داستان را بررسی کرده، ترجمه ی مقاله ی سوم از جناب آقای «امید مهرگان» و جناب آقای «پویا رفویی» است

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 04/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 25/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
December 27, 2021
Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street, Herman Melville

Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street is a short story by the American writer Herman Melville, first serialized anonymously in two parts in the November and December 1853 issues of Putnam's Magazine, and reprinted with minor textual alterations in his The Piazza Tales in 1856.

In the story, The narrator, an elderly, unnamed Manhattan lawyer with a comfortable business, already employs two scriveners, Nippers and Turkey, to copy legal documents by hand.

An increase in business leads him to advertise for a third, and he hires the forlorn-looking Bartleby in the hope that his calmness will soothe the irascible temperaments of the other two. An office boy called Ginger Nut completes the staff.

At first, Bartleby produces a large volume of high-quality work, but one day, when asked to help proofread a document, Bartleby answers with what soon becomes his perpetual response to every request: "I would prefer not to".

To the dismay of the lawyer and the irritation of the other employees, Bartleby performs fewer and fewer tasks and eventually none, instead spending long periods of time staring out one of the office's windows at a brick wall.

The narrator makes several futile attempts to reason with Bartleby and to learn something about him; when the narrator stops by the office one Sunday morning, he discovers that Bartleby has started living there. Tension builds as business associates wonder why Bartleby is always there.

Sensing the threat to his reputation but emotionally unable to evict Bartleby, the narrator moves his business out. Soon the new tenants come to ask for help in removing Bartleby, who now sits on the stairs all day and sleeps in the building's doorway at night.

The narrator visits Bartleby and attempts to reason with him; to his own surprise, he invites Bartleby to live with him, but Bartleby declines the offer. Later the narrator returns to find that Bartleby has been forcibly removed and imprisoned in the Tombs. Finding Bartleby glummer than usual during a visit, the narrator bribes a turnkey to make sure he gets enough food.

When the narrator returns a few days later to check on Bartleby, he discovers that he died of starvation, having preferred not to eat. Sometime afterwards, the narrator hears a rumor that Bartleby had worked in a dead-letter office and reflects that dead letters would have made anyone of Bartleby's temperament sink into an even darker gloom.

The story closes with the narrator's resigned and pained sigh, "Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!".

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «ترجیح میدهم که نه»؛ «بارتلبی محرر و چند داستان دیگر»؛ نویسنده: هرمان ملویل؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش نخستین بار بیست و سوم ماه دسامبر سال1979 میلادی و بار دیگر: روز بیست و هفتم ماه دسامبر ��ال2015میلادی

عنوان: بارتلبی محرر و چند داستان دیگر؛ نویسنده: هرمان ملویل؛ مترجم: هوشنگ پیرنظر؛ تهران، آگاه، سال1357؛ در132ص؛ موضوع: داستانهای کوتاه از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده سال19م

کاوه میرعباسی نیز این داستان را ترجمه و نشر نیکا در سال1390هجری خورشیدی آن را منتشر کرده است

نقل از متن: (بارتلبی، آیا به من می‌گویی کجا به دنیا آمده‌ ای؟
ترجیح می‌دهم نگویم
آیا حاضری راجع به خودت به من بگویی؟
ترجیح می‌دهم نگویم.)؛ پایان نقل

اینها پرسشهای ساده‌ ای‌ هستنند، که صاحب محضری معتبر، از کارمن�� تازه‌ کار خود: «بارتلبی»، که محرر ساده‌ ای بیش نیست، می‌پرسد؛ و هربار مواجه با ناکامی از دریافت پاسخ می‌شود؛ «بارتلبی محرر»؛ نوشته ی «هرمان ملویل»، ماجرای محرری فقیر، و کارمندی دون‌ پایه‌ است، که نه غذای درست‌ و حسابی می‌خورد، و نه حتی، جایی برای زندگی‌ کردن دارد، ولی نیروی شخصی‌ اش بزرگوار است، نیرویی کاملا «نه»، اما قدرتمند؛ که ترجیح می‌دهد به انتظاراتی که دیگران از او دارند، تن در ندهد. «ترجیح می‌دهم نه» تم اصلی ماجراست، آغاز نه گفتن، به رییس از آنجا آغاز می‌شود، که صاحب‌ محضر، که از قضا مردی آسانگیر، و صبور است. از بارتلبی می‌خواهد متنی مختصر را، باهم مقابله کنند، اما بارتلبی به‌ جای مقابله ی متن، با لحنی بس‌ ملایم و قاطع جواب می‌دهد «ترجیح می‌دهم این کار را نکنم»؛ محضردار از فرط نابهنگامی پاسخ کارمند خویش، سخت متعجب می‌شود «بلافاصله گمان بردم که گوش‌هایم مرا فریب داده‌ اند، یا بارتلبی ابدا متوجه منظورم نشده، درخواستم را به واضح‌ترین صورت ممکن، تکرار کردم»؛ اما پاسخ پیشین با همان وضوح بیان شد‌ «ترجیح می‌دهم این کار را نکنم»؛ و ...؛

کتاب «ترجیح می‌دهم که نه» دربردارندۀ داستان «بارتلبی محرّرِ» هرمان ملویل و سه جستار فلسفی دربارۀ آن است

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 05/11/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 05/10/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Guille.
784 reviews1,748 followers
March 6, 2023
Leí este cuento hace mucho, mucho tiempo. No lo entendí y me gustó, quizás porque el no entender implica buscar un sinfín de posibilidades sin decidirnos por ninguna pero sin rechazar ninguna tampoco. Así, sin quererlo, envolvemos el relato en un halo de misterio y, de paso, le dotamos de una especial relevancia. Y he pensado si no será esto mismo lo que le ocurre a este abogado sin nombre que se las tiene que ver con Bartleby.

He pensado que el relato se nos escapa, que el relato se nos resiste, con una resistencia pacífica y hermosa, bien es verdad. Precisamente Melville nos avisa del peligro:
“Nada exaspera más a una persona seria que una resistencia pasiva. Si el individuo resistido no es inhumano y el individuo resistente es inofensivo en su pasividad, el primero, en sus mejores momentos, caritativamente procurará que su imaginación interprete lo que su entendimiento no puede resolver.”
Y he pensado si no será esto mismo que sentimos ante el cuento lo que siente el abogado ante su subordinado Bartleby.

He pensado que quizás Bartleby no representa una respuesta al sinsentido de la existencia, ni al absurdo de la vida: Bartleby representa el absurdo, el sinsentido que de pronto entra en la monótona, segura y acomodada vida del abogado y, sin saber cómo ni de dónde viene, tiene que enfrentarse a él.

He pensado que es posible que sea el abogado el protagonista de esta historia y que Bartleby solo esté jugando aquí el papel del dedo que señala la luna (por favor, que nadie se me moleste, es solo algo que he pensado).

Bien es verdad que de esta forma me quedo con el personaje aburrido y descarto al personaje mítico y misterioso. Quién soy yo al lado de mi admirado Vila-Matas que, en su famoso libro Bartleby y compañía , nos decía:
«Hablar -parecen indicarnos tanto Wakefield como Bartleby- es pactar con el sinsentido del existir. En los dos habita una profunda negación del mundo.»
Y entre el "negar al mundo" del escribiente y la reacción melancólica y de sincera lástima ante la desolación de Bartleby del abogado, no hay color.
Profile Image for Adina .
890 reviews3,542 followers
December 7, 2021
There has to be balance in life so after a 5* review here comes the 1* to keep the average stable. Later edit: I'll upgrade to 2* because I will not forget this story. It annoyed me too much, especially the repeat of "I would prefer not to" reply.

Here is what I understood this story is about. Sometime in mid-19th century, a lawyer needs another helping hand and hires a 4th clerk, Bartleby. The clerk seems to be at first quiet and competent but he soon refuses to do some of his duties replying with "I would prefer not to". Instead of firing his ass, the lawyer feels sorry for the new aid and gives him another chance after another chance, ending up burdening himself and his other clerks with additional tasks. Bartleby refuses to do more and more jobs, he even moves into the office without informing his employer. At some point, the lawyer decides to fire the Bartleby but it proves not to be easy to get rid of him. I did not understand the behaviour of the lawyer and his endless goodwill. Bartleby either was very lazy or as the explanation offered by the narrator - very depressed. If depression was the case (it probably was) I can support reaching out to a person and trying to help them but in the end it is not the employer’s responsibility to treat mental health problems. Yes, it would be nice not to create them, fairness and a pleasant working environment is always welcomed but that’s it. I did not understand the point of this short story, really. I could not feel sorry for Bartleby although I tried. His refusal to work was annoying although I tried to be sympathetic as the author is trying to makes us feel towards the character. I decided to read a few comments to better understand what others saw in this story. Some wrote it is a story about capitalism and about individuality. I don’t see it, sorry. I would probably get more from this at a 2nd reading but…I would prefer not to.
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,137 reviews4,178 followers
June 5, 2022
Ah, happiness courts the light, so we deem the world is gay; but misery hides aloof, so we deem that misery there is none.

• You know that colleague who doesn’t do their fair share, leaving you and others to pick up the slack?
• And the one who is too good at what they do and makes everyone else look bad?
• What about the alcoholic who doesn’t pull their weight after a daily liquid lunch?
• Or the inscrutable one who may be battling mental illness or other issues, but is nevertheless infuriating?
• How should management juggle compassion and fairness amid such diversity?
• How much carelessness, laziness, and insubordination should they tolerate?

This short novella about a small office, way back in 1853, is remarkably pertinent, decorated with some charmingly antiquated turns of phrase.

It is both funnier and more tragic than I expected.

The setup

The unnamed narrator is pushing sixty:
I am one of those unambitious lawyers who never addresses a jury, or in any way draws down public applause; but in the cool tranquility of a snug retreat, do a snug business among rich men's bonds and mortgages and title-deeds”.
He employs two scriveners and an office boy, known by nicknames: Turkey, Nippers, and Ginger Nut. His grotty chambers are described with amusing understatement:
My windows commanded an unobstructed view of a lofty brick wall, black by age and everlasting shade.

Image: The view (Source)

He portrays himself as a benevolent, but ineffectual, boss: anyone else would long ago have fired Turkey for his “eccentricities”, thus, an additional scrivener is required:
In answer to my advertisement, a motionless young man one morning, stood upon my office threshold, the door being open, for it was summer. I can see that figure now—pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn! It was Bartleby.

At first, Bartleby is very industrious. He’s also silent, pale, and mechanical. “On the third day” (such a weighted phrase), the boss asks Bartleby to do a minor task, within his duties:
Bartleby in a singularly mild, firm voice, replied, ‘I would prefer not to.’
And he sticks to that.


• What would you do if you were the boss?
• How would you feel if you were Turkey, Nippers, and Ginger Nut?
• And why is Bartleby behaving this way?

The story progresses, with humour and tragedy, but very few answers. It’s brilliant.

Up to a certain point the thought or sight of misery enlists our best affections; but, in certain special cases, beyond that point it does not.
If Bartleby worked for me, I’m unsure what I would do. I’d certainly be curious, and I’d have sympathy for some of the revelations and assumptions about his life. However, I don’t think I’d be as lenient as the boss says he was.

It explores work, duty, charity, mental ill-health, fate and free will, and the power of the word “prefer”.

Image: Bartleby would prefer not to (Source)


• “He was a man whom prosperity harmed.”

• “When a man is browbeaten in some unprecedented and violently unreasonable way, he begins to stagger in his own plainest faith. He begins, as it were, vaguely to surmise that, wonderful as it may be, all the justice and all the reason is on the other side.”

• “Nothing so aggravates an earnest person as a passive resistance.”

• “His cadaverously gentlemanly nonchalance.”
“His mildly cadaverous reply.”

• “But he answered not a word; like the last column of some ruined temple, he remained standing mute and solitary in the middle of the otherwise deserted room.”

• “‘You will not?’
‘I prefer not.’”

See also

• You can read the novella free, online, on Gutenberg, HERE.

• For a contemporary take on a similar situation and themes, see Jonas Karlsson’s The Room, and my review HERE.

• Gogol's The Overcoat. See my review HERE.

Kafka in general, and a specific story of his. See my Kafka shelf HERE.

• Towards the end, I thought more of JL Borges. See my overview review of his works HERE.

Short story club

I reread this as one of the stories in The Art of the Short Story, by Dana Gioia, from which I'm aiming to read one story a week with The Short Story Club, starting 2 May 2022.

You can read this story here.

You can join the group here.
Profile Image for فايز غازي Fayez Ghazi .
Author 2 books3,911 followers
August 17, 2023
- لا ادري اذا كان يصح اطلاق تسمية "الأثر المفتوح" على هذه القصة او الرواية القصيرة، فهي مبنية على الإحتمالات والتأويلات الذاتية لكل قارئ، على الأسئلة التي تطرح نفسها مع كل بداية مقطع، على الإفتراضات او الفرضيات التي نضعها لنكتشف لاحقاً خطوطاً متوازية اكثر وفرضيات واحتمالات بالجملة... لذلك "اظن" ان التسمية تصح لكنني "افضل الا" اكون متأكداً!!!....

- سأستيقظ غدا لأكمل المراجعة!... بعد الإستيقاظ: أفضل الا...
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
October 23, 2019
This classic 1853 Herman Melville novella is absurd and bleak, darkly humorous and heart-wrenching at the same time. It's the first time I've read it since a college English course years ago, when I didn’t much care for it. I appreciated it much more this time around.

Bartleby is a scrivener - essentially, a human copy machine, back in the pre-Xerox days - working for a Manhattan-based lawyer who is the narrator of the tale. His co-workers: two other irritable scriveners of dubious temperament, and a office boy, identified only by their odd nicknames. Initially an industrious employee, Bartleby declines to participate in certain normal office tasks, giving no reason other than his oft-repeated mantra: "I would prefer not to." <----If you say if often and implacably enough, other people will grudgingly accept it and move on.


But as Bartleby's reluctance to do his work expands to more and more tasks until it becomes all-consuming, his employer, though sympathetic to Bartleby's forlorn, lonely life, has to decide what to do with him.

Bartleby is an elusive work. It's partly a cry out against materialism and the dehumanizing effect of the pursuit of money (the subtitle is "A Story of Wall Street") and partly an examination of isolation and depression, but there's much more to it, and it defies easy explanation. Some observations toward the ending are heart-wrenching:
Dead letters! does it not sound like dead men? Conceive a man by nature and misfortune prone to a pallid hopelessness, can any business seem more fitted to heighten it than that of continually handling these dead letters, and assorting them for the flames? ... a bank-note sent in swiftest charity:—he whom it would relieve, nor eats nor hungers any more; pardon for those who died despairing; hope for those who died unhoping; good tidings for those who died stifled by unrelieved calamities. On errands of life, these letters speed to death.
Gah! Those last lines killed me!

And just because it's interesting, I'll share the one observation my college English professor made that has stuck with me through the years. There's a reference in the end to Bartleby sleeping "with kings and counselors" that the professor pointed out is a reference to these lines from the Bible:
"13 For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept; then would I have been at rest
14 with kings and counselors of the earth, who built desolate places for themselves,
15 or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver"
Job 3:13-15 (KJV) - It's a reference not just to death, but to a certain equality men have in death, despite their differences in worldly fortunes. Food for thought, like so much of this story!
Profile Image for Fernando.
684 reviews1,127 followers
January 26, 2022
Repetí la orden con la mayor claridad posible; pero con claridad se repitió la respuesta.
-Preferiría no hacerlo.
-Preferiría no hacerlo -repetí como un eco, poniéndome de pie, excitadísimo y cruzando el cuarto a grandes pasos-. ¿Qué quiere decir con eso? Está loco. Necesito que me ayude a confrontar esta página; tómela -y se la alcancé.
-Preferiría no hacerlo -dijo.”

Detrás de la grandilocuencia epopéyica que resultó tardíamente para la literatura la obra magna de Herman Melville y que se llamó Moby Dick, publicada allá por 1851, en contraposición se iba apagando la imagen de este excepcional autor tanto para sus críticos como para el público de su época hasta casi desaparecer.
El mismo Melville terminaría sus días finales trabajando como un simple empleado administrativo de la Aduana de Nueva York y fue unos cuantos años después, cuando finalmente lograron recuperar el lustre de su obra perenne para mantenerla viva y con brillo hasta el día de hoy.
Nosotros los lectores somos los que más trabajamos para ello.
Quizás, y sin quererlo, Melville durante sus últimos años haya visto a algún empleado en donde trabajaba o tal vez él mismo habrá tenido una reacción tan parecida a la de este maravilloso e inolvidable personaje que es Bartleby, el escribiente y decidió darle vida.
Este cuento, que fuera publicado en su colección de relatos "The Piazza Tales" (1856) supo transformarse, con tan sólo unas 90 páginas de longitud en un texto de relevancia eterna y que equiparó literariamente y aunque no lo parezca al tamaño del leviatán blanco perseguido sin cuartel por el capitán Ahab y su Pequod.
Cosa rara la literatura... es un arte que transforma lo insignificante en glorioso, lo minúsculo en imponente, lo pequeño en universal. Porque eso es Bartleby: es un personaje universal que hace que todo lector de clásicos sepa quién es y que recuerde al instante su inoxidable frase insignia "Preferiría no hacerlo."
¿Cómo es posible que al parecer, un personaje tan pequeño como Bartleby alcance una notoriedad que traspase casi ciento setenta años para transformarse en algo tan actual y que aún hoy sigamos leyendo este cuento con tanta atención?
Creo que en el caso de Bartleby lo solventa la simplicidad de una frase que resuena a través de los tiempos y especialmente en la actitud estoica de un personaje tan peculiar que no admite copias, aunque sí se puede decir que tiene colegas.
Ya desde las primeras páginas sabemos que será un personaje único cuando su jefe anuncia: "En contestación a mi aviso, un joven inmóvil apareció una mañana en mi oficina... Reveo esa figura: ¡pálidamente pulcra, lamentablemente decente, incurablemente desolada! Era Bartleby."
Para mí Bartleby forma parte de una pequeña elite de personajes que, como definiera Jorge Luis Borges para los de Franz Kafka daría en llamarse "Los profesionales de la derrota". Son aquellos personajes que están destinados a perder y es ahí en donde ganan la inmortalidad.
La altísima dosis de soledad, desasosiego, desamparo y tristeza de Bartleby es compartida con otros tan o más trágicos que él: quién no recuerda la triste y lamentable historia sobre la pérdida de Akaki Akakievich en cuento "El capote" de Nikólai Gógol, el fatal desenlace que condena a Gregor Samsa en "La metamorfosis" de Franz Kafka o el alegato desesperado de "El Sr. Projarchin", escrito por Fiódor Dostoievski. Podríamos agregar a otro emblemático personaje que auto posterga su destino como es el caso de "Wakefield", en el homónimo cuento de Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Todos ellos, al igual que Bartleby están condenados al fracaso, la muerte, la humillación para erigirse en algo que trascenderá los tiempos y nunca será olvidado. El final de todos ellos se trastoca en el recuerdo, en la memoria, en la constante relectura de sus páginas.
Para la época en que se escribió este cuento estaba muy en boga en la vida real tanto en empresas como en los juzgados, estudios de abogados o en las editoriales utilizar empleados que se denominaban copistas o amanuenses, quienes, con una paciencia de araña pasaban horas y horas realizando el tedioso y aburrido trabajo de la copia de documentos.
A esta casta pertenecen estos hombrecillos que, como parte de alguna maraña burocrática y por muy pocos centavos trabajaban día y noche. Bartleby y Projarchin son claros ejemplos.
Cuando Bartleby llega a la oficina del narrador de esta historia, lo hace un secreto que se devela en las líneas finales y más allá de que al principio trabaja con ganas, algo demuestra que no lo sostendrá mucho tiempo hasta que poco tiempo después dispara su frase fatídica, "Preferiría no hacerlo” y ya no habrá vuelta atrás, ya que ante tanta insistencia las negativas de este pequeño muchacho son sistemáticas y como dice el narrador, "Nada exaspera más a una persona seria que una resistencia pacífica."
Es que para mí Bartleby profesa algo llamado "Nihilismo pacífico" y sostiene incólume su estandarte hasta su triste final. Ya sobre el desenlace, su jefe afirma: "Yo podía dar una limosna a su cuerpo; pero su cuerpo no le dolía; tenía el alma enferma, y yo no podía llegar a su alma."
Clara metáfora de la soledad en las grandes urbes, de la desconexión social a las que muchos hombres se ven sometidos o a eso que muchos llaman fantasías psicológicas, Bartleby se nos muestra como un mensaje de alerta a tener en cuenta, más aún en estos tiempos que corren en donde lo humano ha sido totalmente vapuleado por la fría tecnología, la frivolidad de las redes sociales, los deteriorados lazos afectivos entre las personas y un egoísmo hacia el prójimo peligrosamente en aumento.
Para concluir, creo que el mensaje que Bartleby nos deja es claro y no es para nada una crítica al narrador, que pone en práctica todos los recursos posibles antes del desastre.
Lo más importante que nos atañe es el hecho de que todos y cada uno de nosotros en cualquier momento de la vida podríamos transformarnos en un Bartleby si no ponemos nuestras miradas en lo que de veras importa: corremos el riesgo de perder eso que nos hace únicos: el acontecimiento tan único y tan grandioso de SER HUMANOS.
Profile Image for Mohammed  Ali.
475 reviews1,153 followers
June 21, 2017
أفضل ألا أكتب أي شيء عن هذه القصة القصيرة، و لكن في نفس الوقت و بنفس درجة الإلحاح في عدم الكتابة أفضل أن أكتب أي شيء، شعور متناقض أليس كذلك ؟ .

" كيف هذا ؟ قال ممون الطعام مخاطبا إياي و هو يحدق بذهول في : إنه غريب أليس كذلك ؟ "

- نعم أوافقك الرأي تماما : إنه غريب

" لو كان ثمة أي شيء بشري بصورة عادية فيه لكنت طردته من المبنى حالا "

- نعم أوافقك الرأي تماما : هو ليس بشرا مثلنا .

" كشبح مجرد ظهر بعد النداء الثالث عند مدخل صومعته على نحو غريب ينسجم مع قوانين التعاويذ السحرية "

- نعم أوافقك الرأي تماما : هو شبح

" قررت أن استجمع كل قواي، و أن أتخلص للأبد من من هذا الكابوس الذي لا يطاق "

- نعم أوفقك الرأي تماما : هو كابوس

.... و لكن من يكون ؟

إنه بارتلبي النساخ....

غريب بكآبته و يأسه و حزنه، هو رسالة ميتة فقدت صاحبها و بالتالي فقدت و جهتها، نعم هو لا ينتمي إلى عالم البشر لأنه رسالة، هو وحيد تماما في الكون , قطعة من حطام سفينة في عرض الأطلنطي، تتقاذفها أمواج الحياة العاتية، هو شبح إنسان، أشلاء إنسان تناثرت قطعه و تغربت، هو إنسان ما بعد الصدمة، روح عالقة في جسد، روح متألمة متحسرة تائهة ضائعة مغيبة و بدون عنوان

إنه بارتلبي النساخ

" قد أمنح صدقات لجسده لكن جسده لم يكن يؤلمه .. كانت روحه هي التي تتألم و التي لا أستطيع الوصول إليها "

herbergeur d image

آه يا بارتلبي ! آه أيتها الإنسانية

hebergeur d images

Profile Image for BookHunter محمد.
1,431 reviews3,348 followers
April 20, 2023

مشوش قليلا .. كان هذا هو حالي بعد قراءة القصة.
محدقا في جدار الصمت و العزلة الذي اصطنعه بارتلبي لنفسه وقفت صامتا أيضا محاولا التطلع لما وراءه فلم أجد إلا مزيدا من الصمت و الإحباط و الكآبة
لا جدوى من محاولة الإندفاع للأمام طالما سيقف هذا الجدار بوجهنا في النهاية
كنت أفضل ألا أكتب هذه المراجعة لولا الحاجة البشرية إلى البقاء في النور و لو أمام نافذة صغيرة شبه معتمة لا تطل على شيء أبدا
آه يا بارتلبي .. أه يا أيتها الإنسانية
Profile Image for Raya راية.
779 reviews1,385 followers
April 10, 2019
"لكنه يبدو وحيدًا، وحيدًا تمامًا في الكون، قطعة من حُطام سفينة في عُرض الأطلنطي."

سمعت بهذه القصة لأول مرة من خلال هذا الموقع، فرأيت الكثير من القرّاء يراجعونها وبدوا متأثرين بها كثيرًا، وقد بقيت عالقة في ذهني لفترة من الوقت، وقبل عدة أيام، حين كنت أقوم بتحرير لترجمة كتاب
Everybody lies
قرأت بأن بعض خيول السباق قد تُصاب خلال حياتها بما يُعرف بـ "متلازمة بارتلبي" والتي تتوّقف فجأة بلا سابق إنذار عن الجري! وهذا ما دعاني جديًّا لقراءة "بارتلبي النسّاخ" لهرمان ملفل.

من هو بارتلبي هذا؟ ولماذا يبدو بائسًا هكذا؟ ولماذا يقرر أن يتوقف عن النسخ فجأة و"يفضّل ألّا" يقوم بأي عمل آخر سوى التحديق في جدران المبنى والتقوقع ساكنًا في صومعته؟!

أظن بأن بارتلبي هو كل إنسان مصدوم ومُحطّم وتعرّض لكارثة كبرى في هذه الحياة، بارتلبي المسكين الذي رأى في عمله السابق أشد أنواع البؤس تأثيرًا في النفس البشرية. تكالبت عليه ظروف الحياة القاسية فحطمت روحه وقلبه، وجعلته يحيا خارج دائرة الحياة، في عالم خاص به، عالم من العزلة التامة والخواء، أشبه بحجر صلب أو مقعد قديم في زاوية غرفة لا يدخلها أحد. كان بارتلبي يعمل كاتبًا في مكتب للرسائل الميتة، تلك الرسائل التي لم تصل لأصحابها! ولم يفرحوا بها! ولم ينتشوا بسعادة التواصل مع أحبائهم! تلك الرسائل تُحرق وتموت أخبار من فيها في ثانية! كيف لإنسان يملك روحًا نقية سويّة أن لا تتألم ولا تعانى في مثل هذا العمل!

أرجوكم يا أصدقائي، أرجوكم يا من تقرؤون هذه الكلمات الآن، أن تحاولوا جاهدين دومًا لأن توصلوا رسائلكم لكل من تحبون، أن لا تتردوا لحظة ولأي سبب كان في عدم إرسالها، فقد يكون في كلماتكم العزاء والمواساة والحُب والأمل لقلوب من تحبون ولقلوب الأشخاص الرازحين تحت ضغوط الح��اة.

آهٍ يا بارتلبي! آهٍ أيتها الإنسانية!

قصة إبداعية غاية في الروعة والتأثير، بأسلوب سردي مشوّق جميل جدًا.

Profile Image for Seemita.
180 reviews1,614 followers
October 21, 2015
I could ask you to look beyond your desk if you are at work or peep down your balcony if you are at home and spot a Bartleby.
But I would prefer not to.
I could urge you to frame that calamitous Bartleby whose 'selective' inveterate muteness is either enhancing your tolerance reserves or sharpening your fighting skills.
But I would prefer not to.
I could exhort you to unsuccessfully debase this Bartleby’s assiduity in light of his proven peculiarity.
But I would prefer not to.
I could ask you the reason behind your acquiescence of this Bartleby's presence in your life and compel you to accept this Bartleby's apparent expertise in disarming your faculties.
But I would prefer not to.
I could challenge you to tear open your heart and then smirk at the sight of Bartleby's shades in it.
But I would prefer not to.
I could ask you to stop reading this annoying review right now and instead read the amusing novella by Herman Melville chartering the life of a benevolent employer and his eccentric scrivener, Bartleby.
But I would prefer not to.
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,444 reviews7,062 followers
March 6, 2022
Set in the 19th century, this novella centres around a lawyers office on Wall Street, where there are already three employees - two scriveners and an office boy. It’s decided that a fourth person is needed as a scrivener - enter Bartleby, a pallid, silent, mechanical individual, but to his credit, he is very industrious.

Bartleby however has a particularly annoying problem, he prefers not to participate in certain office duties, his favourite mantra being “ I prefer not to“!

His boss isn’t sure how to deal with this, he feels both irritated by Bartleby’s attitude, but also feels some sympathy for him.

There appears to be hidden meanings within the storyline, and it certainly raises many questions, that I’m not sure I know the answer to, but Bartleby is a very mysterious character!
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,443 followers
September 4, 2023
Herman Melville (1819 - 1891) a redactat această povestire în 1853 și a publicat-o în Putnam’s Magazine la sfîrșitul anului.

Nu era, probabil, în dispoziția cea mai fericită. Moby-Dick (1851) nu avusese un ecou notabil și cele cîteva recenzii îi reproșau autorului bizareria temei, digresiunile plictisitoare (lecția de „cetologie” a lui Ishmael), și „defectele” de construcție. Nathaniel Hawthorne îi elogiase romanul, dar asta nu putea compensa proasta primire a „experților”. În 1891, cînd a murit, Herman Melville era aproape uitat. Critica literară îl va redescoperi, vinovată, abia prin anii 20 ai secolului XX, dar asta nu mai putea consola pe nimeni. Melville a rămas, probabil, cel mai ilustru exemplu al unei ciudate orbiri critice.

Bartleby e povestea unui om care decide (?), brusc, să nu mai facă absolut nimic. Răspunde mecanic la toate solicitările: „Aș prefera să nu...”. El nu e un insubordonat (gestul lui nu e un protest explicabil rațional), un revoluționar, un insurgent, un sabotor etc. Nimic din toate acestea. Pur și simplu, așa i se năzare, să nu mai îndeplinească nici una dintre cererile bătrînului avocat, să stea cu ochii goi în birou, să rămînă acolo și duminicile, într-un cuvînt să nu se clintească de pe scaun: „Acolo dispărea Bartleby, în spatele unui mare paravan verde. Livid, maşinal. Nu vorbea niciodată. Nu bea nici ceai, nici cafea. Nu se ducea niciodată nicăieri”.

Pentru că Bartleby refuză să plece cînd este concediat (refuză, în fond, să fie ca toți ceilalți), pleacă avocatul. Își vinde biroul (cu tot cu Bartleby) și se mută în altă parte. Peste o vreme, naratorul (= avocatul) află că Bartleby a ajuns la închisoarea „Tombs” pentru vagabondaj, că, probabil, a refuzat să prefere ceva (a preferat să nu prefere) și că a murit de foame: „S-a postat în curte în faţa zidului orb. După care n-a mai vrut să spună nimic. Ghemuit într-o poziţie ciudată la poalele zidului, cu genunchii strînşi, lăsat într-o rînă, cu capul pe pietrele reci, aşa mi-a apărut bietul Bartleby. Trupul lui împuţinat nu se mişca”.

Jorge Luis Borges a apreciat povestirea și a oferit o „adaptare” a ei în spaniolă. În Prolog, Borges nu a uitat să-l amintească pe Kafka. Și Bartleby chiar este un personaj kafkian, un precursor al „artistului foamei”, să zicem. Nu-mi plac interpretările care trimit la capitalism, la „puterea de a spune nu”, la așa-zisul „limbaj al rezistenței pasive”, la refuzul exaltat de filosofii existențialiști. Bartleby nu e un Sisif care se așază pe înălțime și renunță să care stînca înapoi.

Nu exclud faptul că povestirea (doar pe jumătate amuzantă) descrie, de fapt, un individ care se smintește. În fond, nu știm cînd ne-apucă și pe noi... Înclin, totuși, să cred că nu poate fi doar atît. Mă alătur celor care au văzut în această povestire un auto-portret (de exemplu, Oliver Tearle). Copistul, scribul, e cel care oferă duplicate, còpii, clone. Și editorii lui Melville i-au cerut prozatorului să revină la temele care l-au consacrat: călătorii pe ocean, explorări prin ținuturi exotice, popasuri pe insule luxuriante, întîlniri cu „sălbaticii” etc.

Prozatorul a refuzat să devină o copie a lui însuși. După Moby-Dick, pentru Melville o astfel de întoarcere la subiectele cu succes garantat devenise imposibilă. Și astfel autorul însuși „a preferat să nu”. Chiar cu prețul de a fi uitat... (14.06.22, ma, 26.11.22, s)
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
May 23, 2017
Tulsa Doom: Bartleby the Scrivener, contemplate this on the tree of woe.

Bartleby the Scrivener: I would prefer not to.

Monica Bellucci: Bartleby, come to me!

Bartleby the Scrivener: Um ...

Melville as a pre-existentialist, good read, and funny, also a precursor to absurdist theater, it reads like a long joke, I was left waiting for the punch line

Profile Image for Florencia.
649 reviews1,940 followers
June 6, 2021
...happiness courts the light, so we deem the world is gay; but misery hides aloof, so we deem that misery there is none. (15)

I see a blurred silhouette. A person is sitting at the table. He is writing. He is not looking up. Nobody could have ever seen his face. It's been hours and he doesn't get up. A man, a chair, a table and a million papers. The spitting image of desolation. Does he have any life outside that place? Probably not.
I hope he does.

I read about this particular theme concerning jobs that drain the life out of people, before. I am talking about Benedetti's Poemas de la oficina / Poemas del hoyporhoy, a collection of masterfully written poems that I highly recommend. I wrote some little notes in the form of a "review" so, I really don't have anything more to add.

This is a new side of Melville for me. I am not proud of my experience with Moby Dick. At the same time, I am not sure if I will ever come back to that book. Perhaps, I should. Because the writing I found in this short story captivated me. Maybe it is because I could also relate to the story. The kind of story at which good-natured gentlemen might smile, and sentimental souls might weep. I see people writing and reading and filing old papers, new papers, somebody else's papers. Same rhythm, same tired-looking eyes, same purpose in life: to survive. It has been said that happiness is not doing what you want but wanting what you do. I agree. Otherwise, living becomes mere existing. Mechanical breathing. Surviving.
Conceive a man by nature and misfortune prone to a pallid hopelessness, can any business seem more fitted to heighten it than that of continually handling these dead letters, and assorting them for the flames? (30)

Melville, I feel an uplifting joy. Our relationship has been rekindled thanks to this short story. A perfect combination of vivid sorrow and a tender, subtle humor.
His words resorted to the saddest yet most endearing beauty to describe one of the feelings every human being has experienced at least once: that raw feeling of loneliness. A lonely character in the middle of a crowd. A crowd of all countries and of all times. A passive, mild person who can elicit a violent reaction and a sense of sympathy at the same time.

I finished writing these rambling thoughts and I still see that man writing on his desk. The amount of papers is increasing, so is his weariness. And now, he hardly blinks. Cold and unable to move, like a snowman made by some kid after school.
The night is coming. Soon, he will be in complete darkness. He can't move but he could speak. He seems weak but he stood up for himself once, because he simply preferred not to do something.
I salute you, silent man. And I wish everyone to never have to experience the slow vanishing that dead letters can cause.

I can see that figure now—pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn! (7)


I see Bartleby. A human mirror.

May 7, 14
* Also on my blog.
** Photo credit: Bartleby the Scrivener via Theatre in Chicago
Profile Image for İntellecta.
199 reviews1,558 followers
January 8, 2021
"i perefer not to"

A very touching and sad story about passive resistance! That encourages me to think. How i would behave in the situation? Would I accept him like that or would I fire him? I really dont know?! oh book. "oh Bartleby, oh mankind."
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
June 25, 2017
“Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!”

Reading the closing lines of this novella, one part of my self immediately exclaims:

“That was unexpected, brilliant, absolutely perfect, let’s write a review!”

Another part of me, confused, stubborn, rebellious, rejoins:

“I prefer not to!”

My social self, eager to share my reading experience, and to act according to the established patterns and traditions I have set up for my literary projects, cannot understand that attitude, as it doesn’t make any sense.

“But WHY?”

“I prefer not to!”

And thus the review has to wait for a day, until the effect of Bartleby’s stubborn attitude towards conventional agreements and social behaviour has worn off enough for my regular self to reappear.

Bartleby leaves me bewildered in many ways.

I partly understand him, and sympathise with his wish to decide for himself what he is willing to do, and what he “prefers not to do”, regardless of the external expectations. I cheer him on in his rebellion against “what people are supposed to do”, and feel a liberating power emanating from his strong sense of integrity.

At the same time, he drives me nuts - just like he drives his environment to passionate rage and confusion, most notably his caring, compassionate employer, who simply can’t deal with Bartleby’s straight refusal to do what is expected of him.

Over the course of my professional life, I have known many Bartlebys, - people who put their own needs, wishes and preferences first and reject the very idea of working together to achieve a common goal. Those are the colleagues who add to the workload of other people, who can’t compromise, who don’t see the need to help out and support others. Whenever there is an additional task that needs to be done, they say:

“I prefer not to!”

And it is incredibly hard to argue against a wish. If a person offers a rationale for his or her preference, it can be challenged. But the simple statement disarms most people, who are used to finding compromises. More often than not, somebody else in the room offers to do what the Bartlebys of the world “prefer not to” do.

The short story describes the dilemma of individual and collective responsibility in a narrative that is both sad and humorous, and intensely engaging. I often identify with Bartleby’s wish to separate himself from mainstream rules and conventions, but to make life run smoothly, I end up saying:

“I prefer not to, but if there is no other way of solving this problem, I will do it!”

Most people rely on the majority sticking to unwritten rules of social conduct, and Bartleby shows our incapability to deal with rule-breakers.

An absolutely absorbing must-read for people interested in humanity’s balance between self and the world!
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,529 reviews979 followers
December 6, 2021
I can see that figure now -- pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn! It was Bartleby.

One more on my reading list that comes from a Goodreads tip. Thanks again, folks! I've read it in an hour or so, but I believe it will stay with me for a lot longer.
I had to check twice the year this novella was first published : 1853!!! I couldn't wrap my mind around how modern and fresh and relevant the story of Bartleby, the human xerox machine, still is. Decades before Franz Kafka or Eugene Ionesco or Haruki Murakami toyed with the theatre of the absurd and with the meaningless of existence, Herman Melville was exploring these territories through the meek character of a clerk on Wall Street.

Another striking aspect of the story for me is the humour, something than passed unnoticed in the ponderous weight of Moby Dick (my only previous experience with Melville's prose). Here the funny observation and the wordplay have a strong presence right from the opening paragraphs, but always with an undercurrent of melancholy, hinting at a deep seated despair.

Ah, happiness courts the light, so we deem the world is gay, but misery hides aloof, so we deem that misery there is none.

The story is not told by Bartleby, but by his employer, a middle aged, laidback, financially successful and quietly witty attorney for the bigwigs of industry, who needs clerks to make copies of his legal papers. With a great sense of comedic timing, enter Turkey and Nippers, followed by errand boy Ginger Nut. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and what I missed in their first introduction, became apparent as the novella unfolds. They are the prototypes of the wage slave, tied to their desk day after day, lost in menial and unsatisfying work. One is productive in the mornings, one in the afternoons, and both try to hide their basic alienation (one through drink, one through compulsive rearranging of his desk set). The patron is a kindly soul, so instead of firing both their asses, 21 century style, he proposes to hire a third scrivener. Enters Bartleby and out goes normality. He starts as the perfect employee until an innocent request throws us into unexplored territories.

Side note : I was considering the advisability of including the story in a high school literary curriculum, until I had a clear picture of a full class of unruly teenagers answering : " I would prefer not to! " when asked for their homework. Maybe that's why my English teacher was mum on the subject and I had to discover Bartleby so late in my life.

I see Bartleby as the spanner thrown in the well greased wheels of bourgeois complacency and wilful ignorance. Ignorance of precious time wasted on meaningless pursuits, ignorance of the suffering and needs of our fellow humans, ignorance of the broken communication channels between same fellow humans.

The ending prefers emotion over explanations, with the motivations behind Bartleby's passive resistant anarchy ( He was more a man of preferences than assumptions ) becoming insignificant in the face of his immense sadness. I wonder though, how many readers will read the final words, and then go on as they had each day before, in this age where the constant bombardment with news of catastrophe and murder on every TV screen / newspaper page / internet blog has desensitized our minds to suffering that is not immediate and personal.

Instead of ending my review with the devastating closing epitaph of our humanity, I went back to an earlier passage that shows a less pessimistic approach on the part of the narrator:

Aside from higher considerations, charity often operates as a vastly wise and prudent principle -- a great safeguard to its possessor. Men have committed murder for jealousy's sake, and anger's sake, and hatred's sake, and selfishness' sake, and spiritual pride's sake; but no man that ever I heard of ever committed a diabolical murder for sweet charity's sake. Mere self-interest, then, if no better motive can be enlisted, should, especially with high-tempered men, prompt all beings to charity and philanthropy.
Profile Image for Dalia Nourelden.
543 reviews759 followers
August 17, 2023
منذ فترة قريبة كانت صديقتى رحمة قد كتبت مراجعتها عن الرواية ووصفته بانه" عايش ميت اى انه يعيش لكنه ميت عاطفيا ووجدانيا "
وكانت هذه الجملة كفيلة ان تجعلنى اقرا الرواية
حسنا هل اقول راى عنه ؟
"أفضل ألا "
من قرأ الرواية سيفهم جملة أفضل ألا اما من لم يقرأها افضل ان تقرأها بنفسك

هذة الجملة كانت فى البداية كفيلة بإضحاكى ثم تحول الضحك الى غضب وعصبية وصراخ ارجوك ان تسكت انت تؤلمنى .

"قد امنح صدقات لجسده لكن جسده لم يكن يؤلمه ،كانت روحه هي التى تؤلمة "

روحه هى التى تؤلمه هذه الجملة مزقت قلبى ، قد نجد علاج لالم الجسد لكن ألم الروح يختلف 💔

"لكنه يبدو وحيدا ، وحيدا تماما فى الكون ، قطعة من حطام سفينة في عرض الأطلنطى "


شعورى نحو الرواية ظل مابين الضحك الهستيرى مع كل "أفضل ان " والرغبة فى البكاء والحزن الشديد ، شعور من وجد شيئا يلمسه بشكل غير طبيعي ، يذكره بشئ يرعبه ويفضل ان يتجاهله لكن الكاتب يصر على ان يضغط على موضع الالم بداخلى

هناك جمل أوقفتنى خاصة جزء من الحوار بين الراوى وبين بارتلبي كان من اقواله

" أفضل ألا أحدث اى تغير ...
ليس لدى أهتمام خاص ......
لايستوقفنى اى شئ محدد . أريد ان اكون ساكنا ، لكن ليس لدي اهتمام خاص "

هل تستطيع ان تتخيل شعور هذا الشخص هل تتخيل ان تكون مكانه . على قيد الحياة خارجيا لكن روحك قد ماتت ايا كان اسباب موتها , هذه الجمل ضربتني فى مقتل.


من المؤكد ان المحامى او الراوى حاول تفهم بارتلبي وعطف وأشفق عليه وحاول مساعدته لكنه كان يفضل ألا ، ربما لانه لم يعد يهتم ، او لانه طعن كثيرا ، ففقد الثقة والرغبة فى اهتمام حد وصدق مساعدة احد

" أفضل أن أترك وحيدا "


السؤال الذى ظل يراودنى هو ماذا حدث لك يابارتلبي لتصل الى هذا الحد من الصمت وموت جميع الرغبات وفقدان اهتمامك بكل شئ ؟؟
وصوت يتردد بداخلى : لست بحاجة لإجابة عن سؤالك فليس بالضرورة ان تكون اشياء كبيرة بل تراكم الاشياء الصغيرة هو مايصيبنا فى مقتل . وكلما بدأ شعور اللامبالاة ينمو فإنه يتضخم بلا حاجز يمنعه

آه يابارتلبي !آه أيتها الإنسانية !

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Profile Image for Nahed.E.
601 reviews1,540 followers
June 12, 2021

آه يا بارتلبي ! آه أيتها الإنسانية !

تقول بثينة العيسي في اقتباس ما أعجبني ...
أما عن هذه الرواية ...
فسيراودك إحساس لا يقاوم في رغبتك في ان تصرخ في وجه هذا العالم بعد قرائتك لها
سيراودك إحساس فظيع بأنك تريد أن تزيح هذه الإنسانية المزيفة من الوجود
أن تزيلها بكم معطفك ..
أن تُمحيها كما تُمحي شوائب نظاراتك ..
أن تصحو يوما ما ولا تجدها تحتل بابتسامتها الصفراء وقناعها المزيف غرفتك
كيف يمكننا أن نتخلص منها ؟
كيف يمكننا أن نتخلص من صراخنا الصامت بداخلنا ويأسنا الذي تعدي حدود اليأس ؟

أري بارتلبي هنا ..

وأري بطل رواية ديستويفيسكي (في قبوي) ، وأري بطل (التحول) لكافكا ، وأري بطل (الغثيان) لسارتر، وأري بطل (الغريب) لألبير كامي، وأري بطل (الرهان) لتشيكوف .. وإذا أردت يمكنك ان تضيف عليهم بطل (مونولوج عازف البيانو) ل باريكو، و(ابتسامة عند قدم السلم) لهنري ميللر
كلهم نفس البطل، كلهم بارتلبي ..
كلهم الصرخة الصامتة ذاتها، اليأس ذاته، الغربة ذاتها والحضور المقنع بالغياب ذاته
يفضلون ألا
... !!
Profile Image for Alan.
470 reviews212 followers
July 24, 2021
Could this be the perfectly executed novella/story? I could not put it down for a second. What is with Bartleby, what is with Bartleby? Before the completion of the arc of the narrative, I thought I knew many like Bartleby. Then I finished the story, and I realized – I share more with Bartleby than those others, and far more than I would like to admit. Hard to say anything else about the story without “spoiling” it, but I will leave it at this: the only real monsters in the world are mistakes, memories, and meaninglessness.
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