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Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street is a short story by Herman Melville, first serialized in a magazine in 1853, and reprinted with minor edits in The Piazza Tales in 1856. Set in the mid-19th century on Wall Street, the story tells of a lawyer who employs Bartleby, a new clerk, who, after an initial stint of hard work, refuses to perform any task required of him, with the words, "I would prefer not to."
The narrator attempts to reason with Bartleby to no avail, and Bartleby starts living at the office. The lawyer does not have the heart to evict Bartleby, so he moves the company to new premises, and the new tenant at the building has Bartleby forcibly removed. Soon, tragedy ensues. One of this novella’s striking features is the light-hearted approach of the narrative towards a tragic outcome. Bartleby, the Scrivener is considered as an early example of modernism, and a masterpiece at that.