Skip to page content
Office of the Secretary
Books that Shaped Work in America

Recommend a Book Recommend a book Follow Us DOL Facebook DOL Twitter

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:

  • 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.

Books that Shaped Work in America             Title    Author    Year    Contributors    Printer Friendly List    Sortable List

Notable Contributors