Bartleby and Benito Cereno, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (4 ratings)


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc.
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780486264738


Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

I gave it three stars because it's pretty good - but - damn, Melville can be convoluted, long-winded, unnecessary and difficult to get into. Having said all that, I remember both the stories well so the writing must be good. It's obviously effective. In today's critical atmosphere, Melville would have been vilified for the stereotype of the "bad black guys" used in Benito Cereno. Today's critics love to pull things like that apart and an awful lot of them don't critique the storytelling; they slam the story vehicle. The book will remain in my collection of Dover Thrift Editions but I won't be seeking out copies of other Melville works unless they turn up in one of the Dover Thrift books or the Kings Treasuries of Literature. There are other authors I like much better and many of their works I still haven't read.

Review by
Bartleby - the eponymous character is the central enigma here. Obviously an allegory, but of what? Interpretations abound. My opinion - the narrator's ambition. These conflicting opinions make it, to my mind, the better of the two novellas here and one of Melville's better pieces with prose much less intractable than that he normally employs. A four star work.Benito Cerino - much admired and considered a complicated allegory by some. The story is told from the vantage of Amasa Delano - a real person, and is based on an account of an incident from that person's memoirs. Memorable only for the literary conceit that forces a "what's going on?" mindset in the reader, this somewhat plodding narrative showcases Melville's linguistic excesses. Hailed recently thus "In our own time of terror and torture, Benito Cereno has emerged as the most salient of Melville's works" on which opinion I call bullshit . For those who feel it a seminal piece exposing colonial excess I call "Go read Heart of Darkness". Two stars.Overall then three stars - just about VFM if you buy the Thrift edition.
Review by

Who, or I suppose better yet, what exactly is Bartleby. The story's main character may represent some characteristic of society that Melville was disenchanted with. Readers interested in paradoxes or absurdity rendered in the humanities may regard the 20 or so pages of Meliville's story with special interest. The humble scrivener's job is akin to the copy and paste function on a modern computer. That along with the details of his past job helps to paint a picture of this sorrowful character who's clandestine life style support his mantra, "I'd prefer not to." Concepts of Christian charity are touched upon through the narrative musings of Bartleby's employer. At least two interesting film adaptations exist of this story, one of which features Crispen Glover (Back to the Future, Willard) as Bartleby.

Review by

This book, with its two stories, <i>Bartleby</i> and <i>Benito Cereno</i>, is not what I expected. What a dense read! For a book just barely making it over the 100-page mark, it took me <i>forever</i> to will myself through it! Look at the difference between the start date and the finish for this one! Every time I picked it up I felt like I was being forced to swallow lead, or to walk a mile in a pool of TAR. I felt like I was getting nowhere, anywhere, and fast. And, to my frustrated and wry surprise, I got exactly that.<br/><br/>Herman Melville... I don't know what was his issue, but the man took things that could be explosive, and instead turned them into dust. If I were to choose a handful of words to describe this book, it'd be: "Dense. Gathering dust. Slowly sinking. Numbness." There was barely even the sensation of my frustrations until I reached the end of the book! It's so LOUDLY EMPTY. It's like having a block shoved through the side of your skull, one millimeter at a time, and every moment it sinks further and deeper in, you stop reacting... you lose your emotions... you stop thinking... you're just reading... you're just reading... you're just reading... you're just reading... you're ju--<br/><br/>You see where I'm going here?<br/><br/>The concepts were intriguing, <i>I guess</i>... *Seems a little reluctant to even give the book that* But GOD. With the way this man writes, I want to SHOOT myself to just get it over with! It's WORSE than watching paint dry! Or a snail cross the entire desert! Or having a staring contest for WEEKS ON END with a WALL. A perfectly BLANK... WHITE... WALL!!! *Flails a bit as her irritation abruptly gets the better of her* It's POINTLESS to read these books! POINTLESS! MELVILLE, HOW DARE YOU WRITE SUCH ABSTRACT INSANITY!! *Points a finger accusingly at him, breathing hard and one eye twitching uncontrollably for a moment*<br/><br/>Okay. That aside, this review is highly unprofessional. I cannot stand the man's writing. It's the type of book where you read it, and your brain just shuts down. Completely. There are no thoughts, no care or concern for the story or its characters: you're just <i>dead</i> afterwards. My friend <b>Rain Misoa</b> said she read <i>Moby Dick</i>, and after struggling through TWO of Melville's short stories, I want to whirl on her incredulously and SHAKE her, DEMANDING how she sat through that MONSTER BOOK without ending up throwing herself off of a building!! Maybe only people who enjoy the morbid "Questions about the universe" penned in the underlying tones of these stories will care, but even a philosophy dork like me can't take stuff like this. -3-;; I just refuse to.<br/><br/>If you want to give it a shot because it's a classic example of Melville's works, then go right ahead and be my guest, but there's no way I'm recommending this to anyone. =_e hurts the brain too much.

Also by Herman Melville   |  View all