Re: RARA-AVIS: Billy Budd and Bartleby

From: david david (
Date: 28 Aug 2006

bartleby was the one story by melville that i got into. maybe it was all the windows that opened onto brick walls. i remember an overwhelming sense of confinement. i don't think the lawyer was intended to be sympathetic. his inaction was not so different from bartleby's. the dissatisfaction with modernity makes it the most noirish (if you will) of the melville's i read in college. if anyone wants to read some melville, here's a link to a bunch of online public domain stuff, including bartleby, which i think i'll reread this weekend to see if it sucks like mike says, cause, after all, i read it in college when i too "preferred not to..."

--- Michael Robison <> wrote:

> I read these two stories by Melville on the long
> flight out to Seattle last week. Aside from Moby
> Dick, that's the only Melville I've read. Three out
> of three for doomed characters. I had heard that
> his
> short works were better than Moby Dick, but that
> wasn't my experience. Aside from the boring whaling
> essays which I eventually took to skimming (very
> rare
> for me. I normally read every word.), Moby Dick was
> a
> grand Romance of man against God and nature.
> Obviously, man doesn't fare to well.
> Billy Budd didn't have much to offer. The noble
> savage defeated by devious civilization, with a page
> after page of editorial comment to go with every
> action. I found Bartleby to be horrible. I had no
> sympathy for the lawyer. He should have kicked
> Bartleby's ass to the curb a long time ago. And
> moving out because he couldn't handle it was
> gutless.
> I think I'll read a couple of the South Seas tales
> and
> call it quits on Melville.
> Oh! I read a short one called The End of the Road
> by
> John Barthes on the trip back. I'll comment on it
> later.
> miker
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