This edition includes a modern introduction and a list of suggested further reading.Although most people do not think of Herman Melville as a particularly funny writer, his "Bartleby, the Scrivener" and The Confidence Man have kept readers laughing for a century and a half.
"Bartleby" is a simultaneously accurate and absurd depiction of life in a Wall Street office in the middle of the nineteenth century. It is the gentle comedy of a boss' helpless inability to control a stubborn employee, who when asked to do ordinary chores around the office simply responds, "I prefer not to."
In The Confidence Man, Melville skewers the hypocrisies and inadequacies of America and Western civilization through ridicule. His biting satire leaves many readers smirking until the moment when they recognize someone remarkably like themselves as the next target in the con man's sights.
About the Author
Herman Melville was born in August 1, 1819, in New York City, the son of a merchant. Only twelve when his father died bankrupt, young Herman tried work as a bank clerk, as a cabin-boy on a trip to Liverpool, and as an elementary schoolteacher, before shipping in January 1841 on the whaler Acushnet, bound for the Pacific. Deserting ship the following year in the Marquesas, he made his way to Tahiti and Honolulu, returning as ordinary seaman on the frigate United States to Boston, where he was discharged in October 1844. Books based on these adventures won him immediate success. By 1850 he was married, had acquired a farm near Pittsfield, Massachussetts (where he was the impetuous friend and neighbor of Nathaniel Hawthorne), and was hard at work on his masterpiece Moby-Dick.
Literary success soon faded; his complexity increasingly alienated readers. After a visit to the Holy Land in January 1857, he turned from writing prose fiction to poetry. In 1863, during the Civil War, he moved back to New York City, where from 1866-1885 he was a deputy inspector in the Custom House, and where, in 1891, he died. A draft of a final prose work, Billy Budd, Sailor, was left unfinished and uncollated, packed tidily away by his widow, where it remained until its rediscovery and publication in 1924.
Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).
Date of Birth:August 1, 1819
Date of Death:September 28, 1891
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Place of Death:New York, New York
Education:Attended the Albany Academy in Albany, New York, until age 15
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener and The Confidence Man are both very excellent and interesting novels. The introduction in this edition is also very excellent, informative, and well written. I would recommend this particular edition for anyone who is interested in Herman Melville.