Clarissa: Or the History of a Young Lady

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Overview

How Clarissa, in resisting parental pressure to marry a loathsome man for his money, falls prety to Lovelace, is raped and dies, is the bare outline of a story that blossomed in all directions under Richardson's hands. He was, self-confessedly and happily, 'a poor pruner.' Written in letters, the novel contains all the urgency and tension of personal communications set down 'to the moment,' compelling our confidence but also our distrust. Its rich ambiguities - our sense of Clarissa's scrupulous virtue tinged with intimations of her capacity for self-deception in matters of sex; the wicked and amusing faces of Lovelace, who must be easily the most charming villain in English literature - give the story extraordinary psychological momentum. In that fatally attracted pair, Richardson created lovers that haunt the imagination as Romeo and Juleit do, or Tristan and Osolde.

The original, complete text of the 1747 edition, available for the first time since its first publication.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140432152
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/1986
  • Series: Penguin Classics Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 1536
  • Sales rank: 471,768
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 2.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Born in Derbyshire to a joiner, Samuel Richardson (1689–1761) received little formal education; in 1706, he was apprenticed to a printer in London. Thirteen years later, he set himself up as a stationer and printer and became one of the leading figures in the trade. At the age of fifty, he turned his hand to writing. His epistolary novels—including his masterpiece, Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady (1747–48)—brought him great success and a bevy of admirers.

Sheila Ortiz-Taylor is Professor Emeritus of English at Florida State University, where she taught the British and American novel, as well as creative writing and women’s literature, since receiving her PhD from UCLA in 1973. A former Fulbright Fellow, she is the author of eight novels, including Homestead and Faultline.

Lynn Shepherd has a doctorate in English literature from Oxford University, and is the author of Clarissa's Painter: Portraiture, Illustration, and Representation in the Novels of Samuel Richardson, which is published by OUP. She is also an award-winning novelist, and has published literary mysteries inspired by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and the lives of the Shelleys.

 

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