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Books that Shaped Work in America

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Title    Author    Year    Contributors
 Barleby, the Scrivener

Recommended by:

  • Public Submission

What Others are Saying

Bartleby, The Scrivener

Author: Herman Melville

Year Published: 1853

What Others are Saying:

  • http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/04/occupy-wall-streets-debt-to-melville/256482/ The first great protest against Wall Street and the economy of the 1%.
  • About office work and office politics
  • A story by Melville that deserves being included in your collect. Bartleby is one of the three lowest workers in a Wall Street law office. It is his and his two companion's job to make copies of the various legal documents his rather smug and self-satisfied boss produces, a job, in the days before the copier and the digitized file that would be akin to doing data entry today in the basement of some bank. One day Bartleby is given a paper to copy and he says, astoundingly, "I prefer not too." In his quiet refusal he creates a revolution in the firm and in the mind of his employer. The thought that one's employee might have a preference, that is, have a mind, a soul and body independent of his employment is one that would knock the pins out from under any hierarchical form of labor, communist, capitalist, slave or military.


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