This volume, first published in 1856, includes three of the tales widely considered to be among Melville's masterpieces. In 'Bartleby, the Scrivener', a Wall Street lawyer hires a melancholy young clerk called Bartleby, whose sudden and mysterious refusal to work plunges the firm into disarray. 'Benito Cereno' is the account of a mutiny on a slave ship, based on the real-life journals of an American sea captain. 'The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles' is a series of sketches about the Galápagos Islands which was a huge success with the reading public and contains some of Melville's most celebrated prose.
Also included in this volume are 'The Lightning-Rod Man', 'The Bell Tower' and a story written especially for the collection, 'The Piazza'. Taken together, these tales, in their masterful use of irony and concision, display the author of Moby Dick at his most uncompromising and compelling.