The B-effect, or: How to do literary criticism with a nuclear power-plant

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The B-effect, or: How to do literary criticism with a nuclear power-plant

The essay, in the process of making its meta-critical point, reviews the collection Co-memorative essays on Herman Melville's ‘Bartleby the scriverner’ edited by Janusz Semrau (2009). The collection was published almost simultaneously with the new Polish translation of Melville's story, published as a companion volume with Gilles Deleuze's and Giorgio Agamben's pertinent essays (Melville 2009). There follows a wave of interest among Polish critics, which amounts to a new, local Bartleby industry (Czaplińki 2009; Jankowicz 2009; Kapela 2010). This review is inspired by one important example, a lecture delivered on March 24th, at the Department of Polish Studies of Poznań's Adam Mickiewicz University, in which one of the preeminent Polish literary critics presented the ‘melancholic vampire’, the predatory writer, the walking death that lingers, does not want to go, stalks, and sucks out the life of his friends and admirers. Although the speech was primarily about Arthur Miller, Bartleby loomed (stalked) behind, until he surfaced, with a reference to the new Polish translation.

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