Bartleby is a law clerk on Wall Street who one day refuses a demand from his startled boss with the words “I’d prefer not to.” Over time, he prefers to do less and less, confounding the lawyer, until at last he is taken to prison, where he refuses to eat.
- The Paris Review
There are very few stories that, on re-reading after re-reading, seem to become impossibly more perfect, but Herman Melville’s eerie, aching story Bartleby, the Scrivener is one such. Like a parable without an obvious moral, it is defiance raised to the metaphysical.
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