Bartleby the Scrivener.
Bartleby the Scrivener
(1853) A long short story by Herman Melville, originally published in Putnam's Monthly Magazine and later in The Piazza Tales. The narrator, who operates a law firm on Wall Street, employs a scrivener, Bartleby, whose job it is to copy and proofread legal documents. Eventually, Bartleby rejects these chores, stares blankly at an empty wall, and answers all entreaties with, " I should prefer not to." Unable to persuade Bartleby either to work or to leave, the narrator moves to a new office, and the scrivener is taken to prison. Refusing all the privileges his former employer's vague sense of responsibility has bought for him, he dies of starvation.