Herman Melville  

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"In this very attitude did I sit when I called to him, rapidly stating what it was I wanted him to do—namely, to examine a small paper with me. Imagine my surprise, nay, my consternation, when without moving from his privacy, Bartleby in a singularly mild, firm voice, replied, “I would prefer not to.”" --"Bartleby, the Scrivener" (1853) by Herman Melville

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Herman Melville (August 1 1819September 28 1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. His earliest novels were bestsellers, but his popularity declined precipitously only a few years later. By the time of his death he had been almost completely forgotten, but his longest novel, Moby-Dick — largely considered a failure during his lifetime, and most responsible for Melville's fall from favor with the reading public — was rediscovered in the 20th century as one of the chief literary masterpieces of both American and world literature. Other movements found in Melville a worthy precursor. For instance, many Existentialists and Absurdists saw "Bartleby the Scrivener" as a prescient exploration and embodiment of their concerns.




Short stories



Uncollected or unpublished poems

  • "Epistle to Daniel Shepherd"
  • "Inscription for the Slain at Fredericksburgh" [sic]
  • "The Admiral of the White"
  • "To Tom"
  • "Suggested by the Ruins of a Mountain-temple in Arcadia"
  • "Puzzlement"
  • "The Continents"
  • "The Dust-Layers"
  • "A Rail Road Cutting near Alexandria in 1855"
  • "A Reasonable Constitution"
  • "Rammon"
  • "A Ditty of Aristippus"
  • "In a Nutshell"
  • "Adieu"


The following essays were uncollected during Melville's lifetime:

  • "Fragments from a Writing Desk, No. 1" (Democratic Press, and Lansingburgh Advertiser, May 4, 1839)
  • "Fragments from a Writing Desk, No. 2" (Democratic Press, and Lansingburgh Advertiser, May 18, 1839)
  • "Etchings of a Whaling Cruise" (New York Literary World, March 6, 1847)
  • "Authentic Anecdotes of 'Old Zack'" (Yankee Doodle, II, excerpted September 4, published in full weekly from July 24 to September 11, 1847)
  • "Mr Parkman's Tour" (New York Literary World, March 31, 1849)
  • "Cooper's New Novel" (New York Literary World, April 28, 1849)
  • "A Thought on Book-Binding" (New York Literary World, March 16, 1850)
  • "Hawthorne and His Mosses" (New York Literary World, August 17 and August 24, 1850)


  • Correspondence, Ed. Lynn Horth. Evanston, IL and Chicago: Northwestern University Press and The Newberry Library (1993). ISBN 0-8101-0995-6
  • Journals, Ed. Howard C. Horsford with Lynn Horth. Evanston, IL and Chicago: Northwestern Univ. Pr. and The Newberry Library (1989). ISBN 0-8101-0823-2

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