Providence Athenaeum Hosting Poe + Melville Marathon This Week
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
What's a Scrivener-In? In the hands of Not About the Buildings and the Providence Athenaeum, it's a marathon reading of Herman Melville's story, "Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street." And to give the evening a purely Providence touch (although Melville shipped out from nearby New Bedford on the famous voyage that inspired Moby Dick), there's some Edgar Allan Poe for good measure--in this case, his famous poem "The Raven."
Odd visitors, bird and human
“The Raven,” published in 1845, made Poe famous and inspired praise, parody, and a craze for the phrase “Nevermore.” Melville’s "Bartleby," published eight years later, also featured a narrator whose existence is interrupted by the arrival of a mysteriously implacable agent who replies to any inquiries or pleas for explanation with a single, unhelpful answer, in Bartleby’s case, “I would prefer not to.”
Melville and Poe traveled on the edges of the same writerly circles, Melville was known to have read Poe, and no alert person of the era could have escaped the phrase “Nevermore.” Is Bartleby an homage to “The Raven”? A parody? A coincidental echo? You'll hear both works read aloud, consider their similarities and differences, and ponder the question of influence.
And then decide if you're more about the nevermore, or if you'd prefer not to.
Scrivener-In, Thursday April 21, 5pm, is part three of the Athenaeum's "Hark! The White Whale!" series, and is free and open to the public. At the Providence Athenaeum, 251 Benefit St in Providence. More info: providenceatheaneum.org or 421-6970.