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«Will you tell me «any thing» about yourself?»

Co-memorative Essays on Herman Melville’s «Bartleby the Scrivener»


Janusz Semrau

There is no record of anything Herman Melville (1819–1891) may have thought or said about «Bartleby the Scrivener. A Story of Wall-Street», his single most famous tale, published just over 150 years ago today. It is actually for a whole gamut of reasons that the text is unlikely to ever yield an interpretive consensus gentium, the insights of such magisterial figures as F.O. Matthiessen, Ralph Ellison, Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, or Slavoj Žižek notwithstanding. The volume adds to the nearly global ‘Bartleby Industry’ with contributions by Andrzej Kopcewicz (Poznań), Joseph Kuhn (Poznań), Marek Paryż (Warsaw), Tadeusz Rachwał (Warsaw), Janusz Semrau (Poznań), Tadeusz Sławek (Katowice), and Marek Wilczyński (Gdańsk). Written independently over a period of time, the readings range from circumferentially intertextual to intra-textually semiotic-medical to post-psychoanalytical to post-post-modern to re-de-constructive to neo-classical-symbolic to jurisprudential-allegorical.
Contents: Andrzej Kopcewicz: Dark rooms and Bartleby. An intertextual reading – Joseph Kuhn: Bartleby in Egypt – Marek Paryż: Narrative uses of medical discourse in «Bartleby» and Billy Budd – Tadeusz Rachwał: Undeliverables. A response to Bartleby – Janusz Semrau: «He would do nothing in the office: why should he stay there?» Domesticating «Bartleby» – Tadeusz Sławek: Bartleby, almost Bartleby – Marek Wilczyński: Melville after Lacan: «Bartleby» and the reader’s desire.