Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"

An eccentric clerk would rather not do anything that he’s told to do.

(from 40 Short Stories: A Portable Anthology)

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.”

I now believe my captor to be forcing me to adhere to some pre-planned regimen of what can best be described as Clerk Fiction. While I enjoyed this story quite a bit, I fear what lies ahead for me. How many rumorous, claustrophobic tales of politeness and bureaucracy will be subjected to? What happens when this subgenre has exhausted itself? What will my captor — who, as I type this, is spinning through her iPod, declaring one song her favorite of all time, then another, though few are allowed to reach the one minute mark — what will she do next?

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