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One of the most spectacular successes of the burgeoning literary marketplace of eighteeent-century London, Pamela also marked a defining moment in the emergence of the modern novel. In the words of one contemporary, it divided the world 'into two different Parties, Pamelists and Antipamelists', even eclipsing the sensational factional politics of the day. Preached up for its morality, and denounced as pornography in disguise, it vividly describes a young servant's long resistance
to the attempts of her predatory master to seduce her. Written in the voice of its low-born heroine, but by a printer who fifteen years earlier had narrowly escaped imprisonment for the seditious output of his press, Pamela is not only a work of pioneering psychological complexity, but also a compelling and
provocative study of power and its abuse.
Based on the original text of 1740, from which Richardson later retreated in a series of defensive revisions, this edition makes available the version of Pamela that aroused such widespread controversy on its first appearance.
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First published in 1748, "Clarissa" is the long and tragic tale of the ever-virtuous Miss Clarissa Harlowe. Though her family, newly wealthy, wishes to enter the aristocracy, they can only do so by marrying Clarissa to an unrefined and loveless man. She is soon offered protection from the selfish motives of her family by Robert Lovelace, who tricks Clarissa into running away with him. Though witty and urbane, Lovelace soon proves himself a villainous rake, eager to strike out at the Harlowes by making sexual advances on their highly moral daughter. Clarissa repeatedly refuses the vague offers of marriage Lovelace gives her, deceiving herself by denying her physical attraction to him, yet holding true to her belief in virtue, even as she grows increasingly ill from the stress of her situation. A masterful epistolary novel, "Clarissa" is a tragic heroine who remains true to her quest for virtue to the very end. Contained in this book is the first of two volumes.
In 2015 the BBC ranked Clarissa 14th on its list of the 100 greatest British novels.In 2013 The Guardian included Clarissa among the 100 best novels written in English.
Samuel Richardson, the first, in order of time, of the great English novelists, was born in 1689 and died at London in 1761. He was a printer by trade, and rose to be master of the Stationers' Company. That he also became a novelist was due to his skill as a letter-writer, which brought him, in his fiftieth year, a commission to write a volume of model “familiar letters” as an aid to persons too illiterate to compose their own. The notion of connecting these letters by a story which had interested him suggested the plot of “Pamela” and determined its epistolary form—a form which was retained in his later works.
Picture from "Lettres angloises, ou histoire de Miss Clarisse Harlove." 1751.
In 2015 the BBC ranked Clarissa 14th on its list of the 100 greatest British novels. In 2013 The Guardian included Clarissa among the 100 best novels written in English.
Pressured by her unscrupulous family to marry a wealthy man she detests, the young Clarissa Harlowe is tricked into fleeing with the witty and debonair Robert Lovelace and places herself under his protection. Lovelace, however, proves himself to be an untrustworthy rake whose vague promises of marriage are accompanied by unwelcome and increasingly brutal sexual advances. And yet, Clarissa finds his charm alluring, her scrupulous sense of virtue tinged with unconfessed desire. Told through a complex series of interweaving letters, Clarissa is a richly ambiguous study of a fatally attracted couple and a work of astonishing power and immediacy. A huge success when it first appeared in 1747, and translated into French and German, it remains one of the greatest of all European novels.
In his introduction, Angus Ross examines characterization, the epistolary style, the role of the family and the position of women in Clarissa. This edition also includes a chronology, suggestions for further reading, tables of letters, notes, a glossary and an appendix on the music for the ""Ode to Wisdom."""