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Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded (Oxford World's Classics) 1st Edition
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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?
[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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a novel written in letters (epistolary). It's one of the first "modern" novels and so it's more for studying the structure and style. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Nicole W.
As one of the first novels in English, it was an interesting read. Some of its twists and turns set a pattern for characters in later novels -- even those of Jane Austen. Read morePublished 15 months ago by An Austen fan
Pamela is in my head from old grad school days but I read it lately because my mother's diary in 1923 mentioned that she was wading through it. And it is a long slog. Read morePublished on June 4, 2014 by Lois Herr
The author goes back and forth between the victimization of the damsel in distress and her forceful admiror. Read morePublished on June 2, 2014 by Kindle YGT
I purchased this for a graduate course on sexuality in literature. This is a typical moralistic tale and was a fine read. It served its purpose.Published on January 25, 2014 by WWJAD
Let me start by saying that I love British literature. I've waded through most of the classics, including more obscure works. Read morePublished on October 31, 2013 by C. Vaudreuil
The problem with most kindle editions is that you only get the text with a couple of introductory pages, which is good if you just want to read the novel. Read morePublished on April 4, 2013 by ivan guerra
Somehow I finished a slog through this Eighteenth Century male fantasy on female 'virtue'. It reads like a first draft, which it probably was. Read morePublished on March 11, 2013 by Linksman