“Bartleby, the scribe” shouts “no” to Wall Street

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The most famous short story of the American writer Hermann Melville, a veritable ode to disobedience in the face of capitalism, is reviewed in a brilliant comic book.


Bartleby never turns down tasks, but he


© Ed. Dargaud
Bartleby never turns down tasks, but he “would rather not do it.”


If Hermann Melville is known for “Moby Dick”, he is also known for a superb short story, “Bartleby the scribe”. The story of a notary scribe in New York, precise and diligent. But, as the story progresses, he refuses the tasks assigned to him with an “I would rather not do it”. Formidable immobility, the young man isolates himself more and more, like a rejection of this new world which announces Wall Street and capitalism. Absurd to the extreme, Bartleby is also an ode to degrowth.

Dark scenery

The talented Munuera has taken the text to make it a dark narrative, in a Big Apple that grows too fast under misty lights, rain and snow. The notary’s study participates in the same atmosphere with this overly kind boss and the two scribes who copy, copy to the point of unnecessary. The Spaniard shines in these precisely posed characters, these sketched portraits which let one guess, these moments of humor which illuminate the whole. But above all the author of “Zorglub” or “Campbells” portrays this mysterious, melancholy and, no doubt, desperate Bartleby. Why? We’ll never know.


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Subtitled “A History of Wall Street”, Bartleby is “a prophetic fable about a feverish colossus with feet of clay named liberalism”, as Philippe Delerm understands in his preface. It is above all a superb story of modernity. Munuera understood this well.

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