Saturday, November 19, 2016

Herman Melville again - First line(s) Bartleby the Scrivener (1853)

Herman Melville

Bartleby the Scrivener saw the first day of its publication in 1853:
I am a rather elderly man.
Melville penned that line at the age of 34, thereby distancing himself from identification with the narrator. The line is not especially resonant, though it is a sufficiently well-wrought short, concise sentence. The next line has rather more on its mind:
The nature of my avocations for the last thirty years has brought me into more than ordinary contact with what would seem an interesting and somewhat singular set of men, of whom as yet nothing that I know of has ever been written: -- I mean the law-copyists or scriveners.
The word "scrivener" comes ultimately from the Latin word for "scribe." I wonder if there are still any scriveners nowadays, in our postmodern times.



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