Synopses & Reviews
Herman Melville towers among American writers not only for his powerful novels, but also for the stirring novellas and short stories that flowed from his pen. Two of the most admired of these—"Bartleby" and "Benito Cereno"—first appeared as magazine piece and were then published in 1856 as part of a collection of short stories entitled The Piazza Tales.
"Bartleby" (also known as "Bartleby the Scrivener") is an intriguing moral allegory set in the business world of mid-19th-century New York. A strange, enigmatic man employed as a clerk in a legal office, Bartleby forces his employer to come to grips with the most basic questions of human responsibility, and haunts the latter's conscience, even after Bartleby's dismissal.
"Benito Cereno," considered one of Melville's best short stories, deals with a bloody slave revolt on a Spanish vessel. A splendid parable of man's struggle against the forces of evil, the carefully developed and mysteriously guarded plot builds to a dramatic climax while revealing the horror and depravity of which man is capable.
Reprinted here from standard texts in a finely made, yet inexpensive new edition, these stories offer the general reader and students of Melville and American literature sterling examples of a literary giant at his story-telling best.
Dover (1990) republication of standard texts of works originally published in The Piazza Tales, 1856. Note to Dover Edition.
Two stirring works: "Bartleby," an intriguing moral allegory set in 19th century New York, and "Benito cereno," an exciting, highly acclaimed sea adventure.
Both these long short stories are from Melville's 1856 collection,
. "Bartleby," Melville's allegorical tragicomedy, is the tale of an obscure clerk in a law office on Wall Street. Bartleby's implacable passivity, expressed in his constant iteration of the phrase "I prefer not to," has a strangely disturbing effect he has on those with whom he comes in contact. "Bartleby" is one of Melville's most appealing and enduring works.
"Benito Cereno" is about the attempts made by Amaso Delano of Massachusetts, the captain of ship, to aid another ship in distress a slaveship under the command of the mortally ill Benito Cereno. Gradually, Captain Delano realizes that Cereno is actually a prisoner: the slaves have mutinied and are now in control. Delano captures the ship and executes the ringleaders, and Cereno enters a monastery, where he dies. Captain Delano is another in Melville's series of heroes whose innocence prevent them from fully comprehending the evil to which they are exposed.
Two classics in one volume: "Bartleby," a disturbing moral allegory set in 19th-century New York, and "Benito Cereno," a gripping sea adventure that probes the nature of man's depravity.
Two classics: "Bartleby," a disturbing moral allegory set in 19th-century New York, and "Benito Cereno," a gripping sea adventure.
Two memorable and stirring works—first written as magazine pieces and later published in The Piazza Tales. "Bartleby," (also called "Bartleby the Scrivener") is a haunting moral allegory set in the business world of 19th-century New York. "Benito Cereno," a harrowing tale of slavery and revolt
Two memorable and stirring works in one volume. "Bartleby," (also called "Bartleby the Scrivener") is a haunting moral allegory set in the business world of 19th-century New York. "Benito Cereno," a harrowing tale of slavery and revolt aboard a Spanish ship, is regarded by many as Melville's finest short story.
About the Author
Herman Melville (1819-1891) found early success with stories inspired by his adventures in the South Seas. His fortunes declined with the 1851 publication of Moby-Dick, now recognized as a masterpiece but scorned by Melvilles contemporaries. The author was obliged to work as a New York City customs inspector and died in obscurity, three decades before the critical reassessment of his work.