Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville

Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville

I happened upon this interesting book while browsing the Melville House Press website. I came upon their store which had a cool bag with the phrase ‘I would prefer not to’. In the description it says …

Black, all-cotton totes sporting, on the front, the phrase that made Bartleby the Scrivener famous, and, on the back, the Melville House logo. Roomy, with a sturdy and slightly-longer-than-usual white cotton strap that will allow you to wear it comfortably over your shoulder.

I got interested, who is Bartleby the Scrivener? What would he prefer not do? After figuring out it was a short story I read it.

This is one of those simple stories, that sort of reads like a parable. You can interpret it in different ways. The heart of this story is a worker who works really hard but one day tells his employer ““I would rather not”” when asked to do something. The story is told by the employer. He is perplexed by this employee’s polite refusal to do work.

I enjoyed this story and am still thinking about it. It’s simplicity and bizareness are points in its favor. Who has never felt like saying ““I would prefer not to””, to their boss? What if we all just told our bosses we’d rather not?

Oh, and yes, I did buy the bag…and the coffee cup and book because I wanted to.

Rating: ★★★★

Book #28 in my #ReadingChallenge2021

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