Bartleby, the Scrivener

Herman MELVILLE

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"I WOULD PREFER NOT TO": 1853 FIRST APPEARANCE OF MELVILLE'S SHORT FICTION MASTERPIECE, "BARTLEBY THE SCRIVENER," IN PUTNAM'S MONTHLY MAGAZINE—"STANDS AMONG THIS AUTHOR'S GREATEST CREATIONS, ENIGMATIC BUT CONVINCINGLY ALIVE"

[MELVILLE, Herman]. Bartleby, the Scrivener. A Story of Wall-Street. IN: Putnam's Monthly Magazine, Volume II, No. XI, November 1853, pp. 546-57, and No. XII, December, 1853, pp. 609-15. Entire Volume II (July to December, 1853) present. New York: G.P. Putnam & Co., 1853. Thick octavo, original blind- and gilt-stamped green cloth.

First appearance of a classic of American short fiction, Herman Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener," published anonymously in Volume II of Putnam's Monthly Magazine.

"Melville wrote and published serially 15 short stories between 1853 and 1856. 'Bartleby,' the first published, appeared anonymously in Putnam's Monthly Magazine, November and December, 1853. It was collected in Piazza Tales, 1856. It stands among this author's greatest creations, enigmatic but convincingly alive" (Bradley, et al., The American Tradition in Literature, 901). The striking pessimism encountered in "Bartleby" reflects the downturn that Melville's literary career had taken at the time: "One view is that it reflects Melville's futility at the neglect of his novels and his uncertainty about how to relate to society" (Hart, 57). "Like Bartleby, Melville was a 'scrivener' or writer. Melville also refused to copy out the ideas of others, or even his own, in response to popular demand; he too 'preferred' to withdraw. Like Bartleby, he also distrusted the economic compulsion of society; he resented the financial assistance of his wife's father… However, Bartleby's fictional withdrawal from life represents an ancient and universal theme of history, legend, and literature, and Melville succeeded in universalizing his version of the theme" (Bradley, et al., 901). Includes all of Volume II of Putnam's Monthly Magazine, six issues from July to December, 1853, bound together in the publisher's cloth. Contemporary owner ink signature, dated 1854.

Minor occasional foxing; a few light rubs to cloth, spine gently toned, gilt still bright. An extremely good copy in the original cloth.

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