The Silence of Bartleby

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Cornell University Press, 1989 - Literary Criticism - 206 pages

In The Silence of Bartleby, Dan McCall proposes a new reading of Herman Melville's classic short tale Bartleby, The Scrivener. McCall discuss in detail how Bartleby has been read in the last half-century by practitioners of widely used critical methodologies--including source-study, psychoanalytic interpretation, and Marxist analysis. He argues that in these elaborate readings of the tale, the text itself may be lost, for critics frequently seem to be more interested in their own concerns than in Melville's. Efforts to enrich Bartleby may actually impoverish it, preventing us from experiencing the sense of wonder and pain that the story provides. McCall combines close readings of Melville's tale with a lively analysis of over four decades of commentary, and he includes the complete text of story itself as an appendix, encouraging us to read the story on its own terms.


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