• Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street

  • By: Herman Melville
  • Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki
  • Length: 1 hr and 48 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (426 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Herman Melville’s tale of corporate discontent, Bartleby, the Scrivener, tells the story of a quiet, hardworking legal copyist who works in an office in the Wall Street area of New York City. The business where he works handles the official financial paperwork of wealthy men. One day, Bartleby’s employer requests he proofread one of the documents he has copied. Bartleby declines the assignment with the inscrutable “I would prefer not,” the first of what will become many refusals. The utterance of this remark sets off a confounding set of actions and behavior, making the unsettling character of Bartleby one of Melville’s most enigmatic and unforgettable creations.

Public Domain (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Herman Melville is one of American literature’s greatest figures.” ( The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English)

What listeners say about Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street

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Very strange, very haunting

Stefan Rudnicki has an almost impossibly deep voice, but he plays it like an instrument in this strange and haunting story about a lost soul. Bartleby is probably one of the most passive central characters in literature: his standard response to a request to do something is, "I would prefer not to." I can't honestly say I understand the story, but the feelings of sadness and compassion (with occasional dashes of frustration) come through in this excellent reading.

11 people found this helpful

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Tragic, Funny, and Thought Provoking

Bartleby the Scrivener is short story, which explores the society and humanity on Wall Street in the late 19th century. I completely enjoyed the narrator character and the other office workers. Melville’s prose are excellent and he was able to write a parable that is at once thought provoking, tragic, and quite funny. The narration is spot on, delivering the funny lines as dead pan as they were intended to be.

9 people found this helpful

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Short and peculiar

Any additional comments?

It's a quick and easy listen. I like the story more as time passes. I often find myself thinking about this story in real life situations when people fail to fulfill their obligations (as societal conventions dictate).

3 people found this helpful

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My psych told me to go to CoDependents Anonymous.

I did not see this coming! Please give this book a chance. Written in 1853.

2 people found this helpful

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Bartleby, the Scrivener

This is a touching and well written short story about the eccentricity of a quiet, unassuming scribe with a singular preference, "I would rather not."

2 people found this helpful

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My Review

"Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" is... On second thought, I would prefer not to say.

5 people found this helpful

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What a strange man

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I wish there was more background on Bartleby. Perhaps a followup that would include how he became such a strange person.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Sad, sorry, sorrowful, reflective on my own life's experiences.

What does Stefan Rudnicki bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Stefan was an excellent choice of reader, he provided voice characterizations that were of period and were interesting.

Could you see Bartleby, the Scrivener being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

No, too much would be lost in the story. It would not be nearly as intellectual and entertaining.

2 people found this helpful

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The enigmatic Bartleby

One of Melville’s finest (and funniest) strange tales. One you keep returning to bc you never get to the bottom of it. Fine reading performance. I listened at 1.1x, which was a good tempo.

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a gripping read

Just as the narrator cannot seem to tear himself away from his relationship with Bartleby, readers of this story will feel similarly engaged by this mysterious and pitiful character. With the rise of anxiety and depression among young people today, this story is eerily contemporary. The narrator's unfailing kindness and charity are a fitting model for those who who suffer with and try to help friends or family members struggling with mental illness. In addition, the story is a rare glimpse at the business world from the employer's perspective . There is much familiar to any owner or manager in the colorful characters the narrator employs. But even read simply as literature, Melville is a master storyteller who can be witty, then serious, then humorous, then deeply philosophical. His grasp of the language makes it clear why he is such a giant of American literature. Since most of us will never read Moby Dick, this story will serve to demonstrate Melville's genius. Truly one of the great short stories.

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As funny now as when written.

If you ever struggled to get through Moby Dick, then please try Bartleby, the Scrivener before writing off Melville as a sleeping pill written in ink. We've all known Bartleby's in our life--the person who attaches themselves to you and you can't avoid. Expect an experience more akin to What About Bob? than to Billy Bud. I listened to this book while taking a walk, and thank goodness I came across a bench. I was laughing so hard I had to sit down.

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  • Faisal
  • 06-30-22

Bartelby the enigmatic and strange soul

Melville’s prose is at times wonderful in the way he describes feelings, emotions and contemplative material. I might be missing the point or be on point but having completed the book it leaves me wondering about the character Bartebly and his loss of enthusiasm for work and life. Maybe one of the purposes of this story is to highlight the day-to-day monotony of modern life and the depression one can feel and it’s consequences especially a professional career that is unfulfilling or to see it as fulfilling would be a mistake.

The novel also appears to grapple with the idea of fate and predestination in a subtle way.

I think the novel’s prominence and timelessness is also in the expression of what it means to be human when dealing with others who undergo deep change and maybe even painful transition of some kind that is difficult to pin down.

This is contemplative stuff.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Stevie Bach
  • 08-04-22

Censored edition?

Fascinating account. But oddly censored is the Wall St. address. Why I wonder? Ironically the might of the pen of lawyers?

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  • Mr Wilson
  • 03-29-22

Delightful and disturbing…

My first time hearing this story and I was delighted and unsettled in equal measure. The narration was perfectly pitched and delivered subtly and masterfully… I couldn’t recommend it more highly….

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-10-22

Intriguing, amusing, baffling.

I think Melville's prose is terrific so I devoured this. I couldn't tell you what he was getting at with this story, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-14-21

a strange but compelling short story

very unusual story, interesting narrative style, seemed very formal at first but actually worked well