By Enrique Vila-Matas
In Bartleby & Co., an drastically relaxing novel, Enrique Vila-Matas tackles the subject of silence in literature: the writers and non-writers who, just like the scrivener Bartleby of the Herman Melville tale, in solution to any query or call for, replies: "I would like no longer to." Addressing such "artists of refusal" as Robert Walser, Robert Musil, Arthur Rimbaud, Marcel Duchamp, Herman Melville, and J. D. Salinger, Bartleby & Co. may be defined as a meditation: a strolling travel during the annals of literature. Written as a chain of footnotes (a non-work itself), Bartleby embarks on such questions as why will we write, why will we exist? the reply lies within the novel itself: instructed from the viewpoint of a airtight hunchback who has no success with girls, and is himself not able to jot down, Bartleby is totally enticing, a piece of profound and philosophical attractiveness.
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Extra info for Bartleby & Co.
Caen 1978) Elsewhere in the same year she suggests that Wittgenstein was essentially a ‘structuralist’ and goes on to suggest why by using a familiar metaphor when considering the relationship between structuralism and literature: ‘The writer must realize that he lives and moves within a “significanceworld”, and not think that he can pass through it or crawl under the net of signs’ (Magee 1978). In her 1987 introduction to the reissue of Sartre she suggests that Derrida ‘exposes philosophical fallacies which were earlier the target of Wittgenstein’ (S 37).
5 The beginning and ending of this century are distinguished, as Henry Sussman has said, by ‘a firm sense, as firm as possible, of the linguistic constitution of reality, and the conceptual systems erected to qualify, modify, and contain it’ (Sussman 1990: 130). But while representation was considered problematic at the modernist end of the century, I would contend that it is only in the postmodern age that it really enters a phase of crisis. After the Second World War powerful strands of anti-humanist thought from structuralism to poststructuralism and postmodernism were starting to make their influence felt.
His first category conforms to what we might identify as the ‘late modernist’ strand in twentieth-century fiction, which continues to use the retrospective mode to facilitate introspection in the manner of modernists like Proust, Conrad and Ford Madox Ford. The modernist preoccupations with consciousness and time lend themselves to an inquiry into the relationship of the individual, or a group of individuals, to their past, and continues well into the post-war period, as we can conclude from one of its dominant forms, the roman fleuve: C.
Bartleby & Co. by Enrique Vila-Matas