Veerer: Reading Melville’s ‘Bartleby’

Nicholas Royle

in Veering

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780748636549
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652303 | DOI:
Veerer: Reading Melville’s ‘Bartleby’

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This chapter provides a reading of Herman Melville's ‘Bartleby’. The concern is with exploring the possibilities of veering at the most general level conceivable, as a sort of unbounded term for thinking about thinking, for relating to the world, for notions of community, ethics and politics. Our place in the universe: literature is the primary focus here for an appreciation and understanding of the ‘our’ and the ‘place’. Veering is linked to new ways of reading and responding to literature, in the light of what has been called the literary turn. Before proceeding to Melville, the chapter first presents a few brief summary remarks regarding the word ‘veerer’. Melville's text embodies at once a force of literary or cryptaesthetic resistance and an openness that it is difficult not to read in the direction of a justice beyond the law. A small case of civil disobedience is finally discussed.

Keywords: veerer; Herman Melville; Bartleby; veering; reading; literary turn; justice; law

Chapter.  12498 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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