These 6 short novels show Melville's cleverness and wit as well as his understanding of both the comic and tragic in everyday life. The collection begins with "Bartleby the Scrivener," in which Bartleby, a clerk in a law firm, suddenly starts answering all requests with "I would prefer not to," and mayhem naturally results. It is followed by "Billy Budd," about an angelic, innocent sailor who is punished unjustly. Also included are "The Apple Tree Table," "The Piazza," "I and My Chimney," and "The Happy Failure."
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