The narrator, an elderly, unnamed Manhattan lawyer, already employs two scriveners to copy legal documents by hand. An increase in business leads him to hire a third: the forlorn-looking Bartleby. At first, Bartleby produces a large volume of high-quality work. But one day, when asked to proofread, Bartleby answers with what soon becomes his perpetual response to every request: "I would prefer not to."
From that point Bartleby onward, performs fewer and fewer tasks and eventually none. The narrator makes several futile attempts to reason with him and to learn something about him, and one Sunday morning, he discovers that Bartleby has started living in the office. The lawyer cannot bring himself to remove Bartleby from his premises, and moves his office instead, but the new proprietor removes Bartleby to prison, where he perishes...
Herman Melville (1819-1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet. His best-known works are "Typee" about his Polynesian life, and his whaling novel "Moby-Dick".
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