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Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded (Oxford World's Classics)

3.3 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0192829603
ISBN-10: 0192829602
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Editorial Reviews


`with this edition of Pamela, which will surely become the standard text, we can see more clearly why Richardson's first novel mattered so much' John Mullan, London Review of Books

From the Publisher

Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (July 12, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192829602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192829603
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.1 x 4.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,531,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Samuel Richardson's first novel, 1740's "Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded" is a clever and rich novel. Written to entertain and edify readers of both sexes, "Pamela" is an epistolary novel, presented in the form of letters and a journal between young Pamela Andrews and her parents. From the viewpoint of a domestic servant, Pamela illustrates the complex relationships between commoners and aristocrats, including the range of socially and economically diverse people between those extremes. The novel also explores the erotics of social ambition within the context of eighteenth century bourgeois religious ethics.
Pamela is a mid-teen waiting maid, and as the novel begins, the Lady she serves has just died. Prior to her death, this Lady recommends her servants, and particularly Pamela, who has been educated and refined above her social station, to the Lady's son, a strapping young man, Mr. B. Mr. B, with his own plans for Pamela, gladly takes her into his service, rather than send her to his sister, Lady Davers. Shortly after entering his service, Pamela begins to be uncomfortable, as Mr. B starts trying to seduce her. Pamela, in correspondence with her parents, and under the direct advice of the housekeeper, Mrs. Jervis, vows to protect her virtue and chastity. The rest of the novel deals with Pamela's efforts to fend off Mr. B's advances, in conditions that often amount to imprisonment and attempted rape.
There are many noteworthy issues in "Pamela," first of all being the figuration of the word "virtue." In the context of the novel, and its main character, the word has gender connotations, which align virtue with chastity and marriagability.
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By A Customer on September 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is where it all started. Richardson gives this fast moving epistolary story a fun and predictable story of cat and mouse. The story is simple and short. Maiden is beautiful and is the center of attention by the rich aristocratic master. Retaining her virtue, she places her sentimentiality ahead of possible riches if she gives into the master's advances. Truely a common element of seduction in the Eighteenth century. In all respects, the reason to pick up this novel is Richardson's use of language and sentiments. This novel produces a great deal of reader participation. For one, the reader must decide which side he or she will side with. Siding with one or the other would produce a different outcome to the ending. This novel reads fast and is filled with great eighteenth-century vernacular language. Lots of insults and name calling are also included which are extremely funny. Calling this novel a "preview" to Richardson's masterpiece Clarissa is unjust. This is a masterpiece on its own and it will not disappoint with the first, second, or third reading.
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Format: Paperback
This book is almost impossible to rate. It is didactic, tedious, chauvinistic, dogmatic and implausible. But boy, is it fun! I've read it twice and both times have been amazed at how quickly I was sucked into Richardson's world. And both times I came away thinking, Is this book really as psychologically complex as I think it is or am I reading too much into it?
In a way, the novel Pamela strikes me the same way as Shakespeare's play Taming of the Shrew. Yes, the sexism is irritating (not to say, frightening when looked at in historical context: Pamela really doesn't have a chance), yet the characters live in their own right. Mr. B is less clearly delineated than Pamela, and Pamela comes off as incredibly sanctimonious in parts, but the tension and drama between them and the other characters is real and vital.(For instance, Richardson explores the sibling rivalry between Mr. B and his sister in highly charged scenes that could take place in any modern novel.)
The book suffers towards the end. Pamela becomes even more sanctimonious (and less aggressive), and Mr. B becomes less witty. Mr. B is a villain you hate to love (or a hero you love to hate) until he turns "good" and then he just gets boring. Who was it said, "The snake has all the lines"?
If you find, as I do, that Clarissa (Richardson's better known novel about a womanly woman's virtue) is a tad daunting, give Pamela a try.
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Format: Paperback
I admit that I haven't yet finished "Pamela" and also that I've never been very enthusiastic about the literature of the 18th century. The only reason I'm reading "Pamela" at all is because, while reading the journal of Esther Burr (18th century American and mother of Aaron Burr) she mentions reading both "Pamela" and "Clarissa." She loved "Pamela" and hated "Clarissa" and I want to see if my opinion lines up with hers. (And I also want to see the film version of Clarissa w/ yummy Sean Bean, but want to read the book first.)

I find Pamela's endless lamentations to be quite tedious to read. Until I read the other reviews posted here, I assumed that Richardson was writing ironically and poking fun of Pamela. She says again and again that she'd rather die in a ditch or spend her life dressed in rags, begging than lose her virginity to her master and yet when she finally is left alone and has a key to help her escape from her imprisonment in her master's house, she is afraid of the bull that lives in the pasture and ends up remaining imprisoned. Also, she's quite sly, sneaky and dishonest, despite all her protestations that she remain honest. (Although by "honest" Pamela really means "a virgin.") But perhaps Richardson was sincere in his portrayal of Pamela as a truly virtuous woman.

At any rate, I am not enjoying this novel as much as I'd hoped I would although the scene between Pamela and Lady Davers is highly entertaining. However, Pamela is an extraordinarily prolific letter writer, but at different times throughout the novel she recaps what has already happened at great length. The characters are not very interesting or particularly well-developed. If I had to invite one of them to dinner, I'd pass over the tedious Pamela and the despicable Mr. B, her master and plump for earthy, pragmatic Mrs. Jewkes who is occaisionally entertaining.
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