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Clarissa, or, The History of a Young Lady (1747)

by Samuel Richardson

Other authors: John Angus (Editor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,4692811,897 (3.49)1 / 407
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Immerse yourself in the epic sweep of what some critics regard as one of the most culturally significant novels ever written. Clarissa Harlowe is a virtuous young woman whose nouveau riche family wants desperately to be able to lay claim to the aristocracy. They plan to do this by marrying off Clarissa to a wealthy heir, but there's just one catch: Clarissa despises the fellow they've set their sights on and will do anything to escape this fate. When another beau comes into the picture, Clarissa thinks she's been savedÔ??but does this new suitor have her best interest at heart?… (more)

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» See also 407 mentions

English (26)  French (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
This was 1533 pages worth of a total slog, during which I admit to a lot of skimming. It is SO repetitive.

Plot spoilers ahead, but really, you're not going to read all 1500 pages and it's all pretty predictable, so no worries . . .

Young, beautiful, virtuous Clarissa is being pressured by her family to marry a man she has no love for and can't respect so that they can get their hands on the money she inherited from her grandfather. Instead she falls into the hands of the young and handsome Lovelace, who helps her escape from her family, though everyone (Clarissa included) knows he is not to be trusted. This proves to be true to an amazing extent as he kidnaps Clarissa, keeps her isolated, tries to force her into marrying him, and ultimately rapes her twice.

This novel is all told in the form of letters. And, like I said earlier, it's incredibly repetitive. The whole thing could have easily happened, even with a lot of detail and development, in about 200 pages. I know this is a considered an important work in the development of the novel, but I did not enjoy reading it. ( )
  japaul22 | Nov 14, 2023 |
Talk about Rape Culture. This book had me FURIOUS! Furious with antiquated men who created impossible laws and cultural structures that made it impossible for women to not take the blame for anything. So many people in this book should have been prosecuted for abuse. It was just sick.

That being said... Clarissa wasn't perfect either. The end reminded me of an opera. There's always the woman with consumption who sings for 20 minutes before she dies. Such was Clarissa. ( )
1 vote OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
I AM FINISHED!!!! This book is both enormous and slow-moving and took me a month to get through.

It's also utterly aggravating to spend so much time with a selfish, spoiled man who gaslights a vulnerable and naive young woman who does not wish to be married off to acquire her family a bigger fortune. In short, there are 537 letters filled with stories of work and faintings, self-love, and much shaming of women.

The libertines in Samuel Richardson's novels are neither sympathetic nor commendable men, but at least Pamela's Mr. B. (called Booby by Henry Fielding, WHICH SO FITS) does kooky stunts, like cross-dressing as a maid, in order to grab Pamela's breast. Mr. Lovelace just gaslights Clarissa until the infamous rape scene, and OMG, it's too much like real life and sooooo exhausting. ( )
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
An epistolary novel, one of the first, I believe. It is of astonishing sameness, but is a fine example of 1740's soft porn. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Oct 11, 2019 |
This was an 18th century story of Clarissa Harlowe, a young girl, who rather than be forced by her family to marry a man she despises, is aided in running away by a real scoundrel. This book is written in epistolary form with Clarissa and her best friend, Miss Howe, being the primary letter writers. Miss Howe is a true friend to Clarissa throughout the very sad story. This was a very long book and began to drag in the middle when Clarissa and her friend constantly moralize on their fates; it's very repetitive. There are some parts that are unbelievable; such as when Clarissa is moved to a lodging, which in reality is a brothel (twice) and she has no idea. Maybe naivety is supposed to be part of the story line; but from the beginning one would not assume Clarissa to be naive. 1534 pages ( )
  Tess_W | Jun 29, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (70 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richardson, Samuelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Angus, JohnEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brett, SimonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burrell, John AngusEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Butt, John EverettIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ross, AngusEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stinstra, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, AngusIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
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I am extremely concerned, my dearest friend, for the disturbances that have happened in your family.
Quotations
The person who will bear much shall have much to bear, all the world through.
But what will not these men say to obtain belief, and a power over one?
Why was such a woman as this thrown in my way, whose very fall will be her glory, and perhaps not only my shame, but my destruction?
Marriage, with these women, thou seest, Jack, is an atonement for all we can do to them.
There is a good and a bad light in which everything that befalls us may be taken. If the human mind will busy itself to make the worst of every disagreeable occurrence, it will never want woe.
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ISBN 0140432159 is NOT a Signet Classic abridgment edition
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Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Immerse yourself in the epic sweep of what some critics regard as one of the most culturally significant novels ever written. Clarissa Harlowe is a virtuous young woman whose nouveau riche family wants desperately to be able to lay claim to the aristocracy. They plan to do this by marrying off Clarissa to a wealthy heir, but there's just one catch: Clarissa despises the fellow they've set their sights on and will do anything to escape this fate. When another beau comes into the picture, Clarissa thinks she's been savedÔ??but does this new suitor have her best interest at heart?

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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