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Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street” tells the story of a lawyer who hires a man named Bartleby as a new clerk in his Wall Street practice. Shortly after being hired, Bartleby refuses to do his job and rejects every request with a polite but firm “I would prefer not to.” The text, which was first published anonymously in 1853 in Putnam’s Magazine and reprinted in Melville’s The Piazza Tales three years later, is considered one of Melville’s best short stories. However, like most of Melville later efforts, it was largely underappreciated during his lifetime. Since Melville was rediscovered by literary critics in the early 20th century, “Bartleby the Scrivener” has been one of the most read and discussed of Melville’s works. With its setting at Wall Street and its examination of  toll the business world can take on its workers, Melville’s story is remarkably modern.

Read the full story summary, the full story analysis, and explanations of important quotes from “Bartleby the Scrivener.”

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