A great read. Comical, absurd and dated and yet you can put yourself in the shoes of the author as he wrestles with himself. This version has a variety of related articles which doubles its length. Some of this was extremely interesting but others I found very hard-going and inaccessible. I recommend the book on the basis of the novella alone which was very enjoyable.

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Dates 17 May 2012 – 21 May 2012
Time spent reading 3 hours, 50 minutes
Highlights 19
Comments 5
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  • Martin McClellan Martin McClellan
  • Sam Ryan Sam Ryan

I always deemed him the victim of two evil powers—ambition and indigestion.

Also, they sent Ginger Nut very frequently for that peculiar cake—small, flat, round, and very spicy—after which he had been named by them.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Melville clearly needed educating on the difference between a biscuit and a cake.

Nothing so aggravates an earnest person as a passive resistance.

there were several keys to my door. One was kept by a woman residing in the attic, which person weekly scrubbed and daily swept and dusted my apartments. Another was kept by Turkey for convenience sake. The third I sometimes carried in my own pocket. The fourth I knew not who had.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Keys have their own nature. I can't say I completely know where all of our sets are, either!

happiness courts the light, so we deem the world is gay, but misery hides aloof, so we deem that misery there is none

Somehow, of late I had got into the way of involuntarily using this word “prefer” upon all sorts of not exactly suitable occasions.

like the last column of some ruined temple, he remained standing mute and solitary in the middle of the otherwise deserted room.

Rather would I let him live and die here, and then mason up his remains in the wall.

Bartleby, this is Mr. Cutlets

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Great name for a "broad meat-like man".

the nature of man is sufficiently disclosed for him to apprehend something of himself; and sufficiently obscure for all the rest to be plunged in thick darkness, in which he gropes forever—and forever in vain—to lay hold on some completer notion of his being.

It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience.

There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man.

voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail.

Those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform. Some are petitioning the State to dissolve the Union, to disregard the requisitions of the President. Why do they not dissolve it themselves—the union between themselves and the State—and refuse to pay their quota into its treasury? Do not they stand in same relation to the State that the State does to the Union? And have not the same reasons prevented the State from resisting the Union which have prevented them from resisting the State?

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Love this section in the Melville House edition of the book. If you don't agree with the government, don't fund them. The problem is that acting alone will get you in trouble, there has to be a large number of you to make this happen. Takes immense bravery.

it is, after all, with men and not with parchment that I quarrel

I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name—if ten honest men only—ay, if one HONEST man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this co-partnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefore, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Makes me think of Rosa Parks. Lots of truth in this.

Is there not a sort of bloodshed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man’s real manhood and immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see this blood flowing now.

the rich man—not to make any invidious comparison—is always sold to the institution which makes him rich.

the State never intentionally confronts a man’s sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength.