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Bartleby & Co.by Enrique Vila-matas
Enrique Vila-Matas, a Barcelona-born novelist, has won a number of international literary prizes, yet he remains somewhat obscure in English-speaking nations. Bartleby & Co., titled in reference to Melville's short story character, delves into the enigmatic world of the "literature of the No," focusing on writers who, for myriad reasons, came to forsake their craft, remain aloof from their works, or incorporate elements of refusal throughout their writing (including Salinger, Rimbaud, Kafka, Pessoa, Walser, Hawthorne, B. Traven, Guy de Maupassant, Pynchon, Musil, Joubert, Tolstoy, et al). This fascinating exploration of a heretofore neglected chapter in world literature is both a ruminative inquiry into the reasons that compel one to write (or not) in the first place, as well as an inspired, deeply original novel serving as homage to the very writers it seeks to venerate.
Synopses & Reviews
In Bartleby & Co., an enormously enjoyable novel, Enrique Vila-Matas tackles the theme of silence in literature: the writers and non-writers who, like the scrivener Bartleby of the Herman Melville story, in answer to any question or demand, replies: "I would prefer not to." Addressing such "artists of refusal" as Robert Walser, Robert Musil, Arthur Rimbaud, Marcel Duchamp, Herman Melville, and J. D. Salinger, Bartleby & Co. could be described as a meditation: a walking tour through the annals of literature. Written as a series of footnotes (a non-work itself), Bartleby embarks on such questions as why do we write, why do we exist? The answer lies in the novel itself: told from the point of view of a hermetic hunchback who has no luck with women, and is himself unable to write, Bartleby is utterly engaging, a work of profound and philosophical beauty.
"A wry, mind-bending delight: Borges and Calvino would have welcomed Vila-Matas as a kinsman." Kirkus Reviews
"It would be comical to complain that such a work skimps on the expected novelistic pleasures (can you hear a chorus of Bartlebys cackling?), and Bartleby & Co. has its strange cerebral satisfactions." The Village Voice
A marvelous novel by one of Spain's most important contemporary authors, in which a clerk in a Barcelona office takes us on a romping tour of world literature.
About the Author
Enrique Vila-Matas was born in Barcelona in 1948. His novels have been translated into eleven languages and honored by many prestigious literary awards including the Prix Médicis Etranger. Author of Bartleby & Co., Montano's Malady, and Never Any End to Paris, he has received Europe's most prestigious awards and been translated into twenty-seven languages.
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