Bartleby, the Scrivener

Bartleby, the Scrivener - Herman Melville Herman Melville was a complex man and writer who got to know fame and fall from grace during his life, but never stopped writing. Bartleby is a very modern work. Like many of his novellas is more focused around one idea and less ambitious that some of his novels (Moby Dick or Pierre are cases in point, although Moby Dick is one of my ever favourite novel) but crisp and concise. Bartleby is ahead of his time, and a near existentialist novel, with a sympathetic but uncomprehending narrator (the audience?), and a central character who is just a cog in the machine (the office of dead letters, what a tremendous place!) until one good he starts saying 'I'd prefer not to' and causes his self-destruction.
I've always thought Melville was a very early Modernist (The Confidence Man for example is fluid and changing) and this is a true great work.