A trip to Melville’s New York

When this posts, daughter #2 will be en route to New York City!

This week is the 12th International Melville Society Conference, which will celebrate the bicentennial of Melville’s birth. Melville was born in lower Manhattan and is buried in the Bronx, so there is much to see and learn. I am looking forward to partaking in a number of conference excursions, and will present on a roundtable about Melville’s religious thinking. DN and I will then extend our visit through the weekend, with an itinerary that includes comedy shows, lots of dining out, and our one big blowout: tickets to the American Ballet Theatre. (You only live once!)

It will be odd to visit NYC without my sister there — how many times did I visit over the years that she lived on the Upper West Side?


Too many to count! We will have to make do without our intrepid tour guide.

Hopefully we do not meet a fate like Bartleby the Scrivener’s–or of that story’s narrator, for that matter.

“Bartleby,” said I, in the kindest tone I could assume under such exciting circumstances, “will you go home with me now–not to my office, but my dwelling–and remain there till we can conclude upon some convenient arrangement for you at our leisure? Come, let us start now, right away.”

“No; at present I would prefer not to make any change at all.”

I answered nothing, but effectually dodging everyone by the suddenness and rapidity of my flight, rushed from the building, ran up Wall Street towards Broadway, and jumping into the first omnibus, was soon removed from pursuit. As soon as tranquility returned, I distinctly perceived that I had now done all that I possibly could, both in respect to the demands of the landlord and his tenants, and with regard to my own desire and sense of duty, to benefit Bartleby, and shield him from rude persecution. I now strove to be entirely carefree and quiescent, and my conscience justified me in the attempt, though, indeed, it was not so successful as I could have wished. So fearful was I of being again hunted out by the incensed landlord and his exasperated tenants, that, surrendering my business to Nippers for a few days, I drove about the upper part of the town and through the suburbs, in my rockaway; crossed over to Jersey City and Hoboken, and paid fugitive visits to Manhattanville and Astoria. In fact I almost lived in my rockaway for the time.”

— FromĀ Bartleby the Scrivener