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Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded (Oxford World's Classics) 1st Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199536498
ISBN-10: 019953649X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

`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

About the Author

Thomas Keymer's books include Richardson's Clarissa and the Eighteenth Century Reader (1992) and the OWC edition of Fielding's Joseph Andrews and Shamela.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019953649X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199536498
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.4 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. Pactor VINE VOICE on October 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is one of those books that people should take some time to read solely for it's historical significance, since it truly is a touchstone in the development of the novel as a distinct literary form. Released in 1740, it created a tidal wave of what we would now characterize as "media attention" and "popularity." Pamela was the right book at the right time and this confluence of time/place/text adds importance to the book itself.

The author, Samuel Richardson, was a commoner, without the aristocratic background of his rival, Henry Fielding or contemporary Tobias Smolett:

UNLIKE his great contemporary and rival, Henry
Fielding, Samuel Richardson could boast of no connection, however remote, with an aristocratichouse. He himself has informed us that he came
of a family " of middling note," in the county of Surrey, from which we may conjecture that his ancestors were small landed gentry or respectable yeomen. (<a href="[...]">Samuel Richardson
By Clara Linklater Thomson</a>)

Thomson's biography mentions that in the 1740's, people were still a tad fuzzy on the concept of a fictional story, "Richardson was at once overwhelmed with
letters from eager readers who longed to know
whether the story was true." (Thomson, Samuel Richardson) It is against this back drop that you need to consider the development of the english novel as a real step forward in terms of the cultural sophistication of the readers. You can literally see the human mind moving away from the simplicity of the middle ages (and its literary forms.)

I think it's fair to say that the contribution of Pamela, in a nut shell, is the depth of psychological complexity of the characters.
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Format: Paperback
I admit that I did something of a schizoid reading with "Pamela." Reading it "against the grain" gave me great pleasure; or at least perverse pleasure. On several occasions, I may even have taken the point of view of Pamela's evil seducer's, Mr.B. I recommend reading this book with a highly prurient angle. This book is more pornography than pornography itself. A little bit of ironic distance is probably healthy.

Most people find a more conventional reading rather boring--a secular context for the enactment of various Protestant ideas about virtue, honesty, etc. Richardson's social and moral universe is essentially the same, although much less refined and subtle, as that of Jane Austen. From a literary point of view, it's rather fun to see the beams poking out and hear the wheels creaking (a mechanism more exposed in some places in the book than in others) which provide the foundations for the novel as a genre of writing.

"Pamela" is divided into two volumes: the first describes Pamela's seduction by Mr.B., which is indeed full of suspense, not to mention all the twisted sexuality, seeing that her chastity is at stake; the second is about Pamela's attempt to assimilate into her newly-acquired upper social standing while maintaining her integrity, desiring to appear worthy of her new riches and preserving what she regards as her privileged standing under God. The stakes for her are just as high in the second volume as in the first.

Pamela sounds like a lawyer (God's advocate?) when parsing her and others' emotional and psychological motivations. This can produce some interesting dialogue, full or retorts and counter-retorts (though not nearly as interesting as in "Clarissa")She is clever and priggish at the same time.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read Pamela after learning that Samuel Richardson was Charlotte Bronte's favorite author - and that Richardson is considered to be one of the originators of the English novel. Pamela is a lovely tale,but how the girl does go on about her virtue...and virtually everything else.
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Format: Paperback
I love this book! I read it in my early twenties and have read it quite often through the years. It may not be everyone's cup-of-tea but as an avid reader of romance novels it's interesting to see how the genre has changed over the centuries. Richardson meant the work to be a parable for why women should hold on to their virtue, but over the centuries it has become more of a romance than a parable. This is not as graphic as Clarissa (no rape), which makes this a much better book. Anyway, it's worth a read.
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Format: Paperback
503 pages of excessively verbose text that boil down to following:

PAMELA: I am a lowly maid. Yet my virtue, look at it.
MASTER-OF-THE-HOUSE: Ooh, dazzling. How 'bout you let me avail myself of some of that virtue?
PAMELA: No!
MASTER: YES.
PAMELA: No!
MASTER: YES.

[Insert cross-dressing in-bed-hiding country-house-involving shenanigans.]

MASTER-OF-THE-HOUSE: Your virtue, it has won me over. Marry me?
PAMELA: But of course.

Perhaps the shenanigans make it sound vaguely amusing. Just know that there are MANY, MANY pages where Pamela details how awesome she is and the shenanigans are not nearly ripping or amusing enough to compensate for the remaining tedium. While the first half of "Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded" is interesting as Pamela’s strong moral code is pitted against her creepy master Mr. B’s various attempts to assault her, once she falls in love with him, it becomes so problematic and awful that it’s hard to read. Avoid!
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