A literary classic that wasn't recognized for its merits until decades after its publication, Herman Melville's Moby-Dick tells the tale of a whaling ship and its crew, who are carried progressively further out to sea by the fiery Captain Ahab. Obsessed with killing the massive whale, which had previously bitten off Ahab's leg, the seasoned seafarer steers his ship to confront the creature, while the rest of the shipmates, including the young narrator, Ishmael, and the harpoon expert, Queequeg, must contend with their increasingly dire journey. The book invariably lands on any short list of the greatest American novels.
A Wall Street lawyer specializing in bonds and mortgages hires a respectable young man to copy legal documents by hand. At first, the new scrivener approaches his duties with a calm efficiency. Then comes the day when his response to a new assignment is, “I would prefer not to.” The mysterious phrase soon becomes Bartleby’s reply to everything asked of him, and his surrender to inertia is both maddening and inexorable. Torn between frustration and pity, anger and sorrow, his employer desperately tries to save Bartleby, but the cause is as doomed to disappointment as life itself.
A strange and haunting fable that continues to resonate a century and a half after it was first published, Bartleby, the Scrivener is a masterpiece of American literature.
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Moby-Dick is one of the great epics in all of literature. Captain Ahab's hunt for the white whale drives the narrative at a relentless pace, while Ishmael's meditations on whales and whaling, on the sublime indifference of nature, and on the grimy physical details of the extraction of oil provide a reflective counterpoint to the headlong idolatrous quest. Sometimes read as a terrifying study of monomania or as a critical inquiry into the effects of reducing life to symbols, Moby-Dick also offers colorful and often comic glimpses of life aboard a whaling ship.
For the first time, the authoritative editions of works by American novelists, poets, scholars, and essayists collected in the hardcover volumes of The Library of America are being published singly in a series of handsome paperback books. A distinguished writer has contributed an introduction for each volume, which also includes a chronology of the author's life an essay on the text, and notes.
The narrator, an elderly lawyer who has a very comfortable business helping wealthy men deal with mortgages, title deeds, and bonds, relates the story of the strangest man he has ever known. The narrator already employs two scriveners, Nippers and Turkey. Nippers suffers from chronic indigestion, and Turkey is a drunk, but the office survives because in the mornings Turkey is sober even though Nippers is irritable, and in the afternoon Nippers has calmed down even though Turkey is drunk.
It was not a very white jacket, but white enough, in all conscience, as the sequel will show.
The way I came by it was this.
When our frigate lay in Callao, on the coast of Peru—her last harbour in the Pacific—I found myself without a grego, or sailor's surtout; and as, toward the end of a three years' cruise, no pea-jackets could be had from the purser's steward: and being bound for Cape Horn, some sort of a substitute was indispensable; I employed myself, for several days, in manufacturing an outlandish garment of my own devising, to shelter me from the boisterous weather we were so soon to encounter.
It was nothing more than a white duck frock, or rather shirt: which, laying on deck, I folded double at the bosom, and by then making a continuation of the slit there, opened it lengthwise—much as you would cut a leaf in the last new novel. The gash being made, a metamorphosis took place, transcending any related by Ovid. For, presto! the shirt was a coat!—a strange-looking coat, to be sure; of a Quakerish amplitude about the skirts; with an infirm, tumble-down collar; and a clumsy fullness about the wristbands; and white, yea, white as a shroud. And my shroud it afterward came very near proving, as he who reads further will find.
But, bless me, my friend, what sort of a summer jacket is this, in which to weather Cape Horn? A very tasty, and beautiful white linen garment it may have seemed; but then, people almost universally sport their linen next to their skin.
Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street is a short story by Herman Melville about a strange man with a strange phrase: "I would prefer not to." This American short story is now one of the most famous of American short stories and has been adapted into many variations. This Xist Classics edition has been professionally formatted for e-readers with a linked table of contents. This ebook also contains a bonus book club leadership guide and discussion questions. We hope you’ll share this book with your friends, neighbors and colleagues and can’t wait to hear what you have to say about it.
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"Call me Ishmael." So begins the famous opening chapter of Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. Young sailor Ishmael is hired as a crew member of a whaler named Pequod, captained by a man named Ahab. In between lengthy chapters on whale biology and descriptions of the crew and the whaling trade, readers are slowly introduced to a captivating tale. Ahab is out for revenge on the great white whale that stole his leg, leaving him with a whale-bone prosthesis and a withering hatred for the beast. Known as Moby Dick, the whale is infamous for his encounters and escapes with whale ships, and Ahab offers a gold coin, nailed to the Pequod's mast, as a reward for whoever sights him first. Beginning on a cold Christmas morning, the crew embarks on a journey to find the whale and make their fortunes. An exciting staple of American literature, Moby-Dick is a must-read for anyone interested in the classics. Herman Melville was inspired to write Moby Dick by the 1821 biographical account Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-ship Essex, which in turn inspired the 2000 novel and 2015 movie, In the Heart of the Sea.
Bartleby the Scrivener is one of the most highly regarded short stories of American fiction. Dealing with themes of depression, apathy, loss and curiosity it is one Herman Melville's finest works. Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.
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