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Pamela: or, Virtue Rewarded (1740)

by Samuel Richardson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,098355,234 (2.89)178
Based on actual events, Pamela is the story of a young girl who goes to work in a private residence and finds herself pursued by her employer's son, described as a "gentleman of free principles." Unfolding through letters, the novel depicts with much feeling Pamela's struggles to decide how to respond to her would-be seducer and to determine her place in society. Samuel Richardson (1689 - 1761), a prominent London printer, is considered by many the father of the English novel, and Pamela the first modern novel. Following its hugely successful publication in 1740, it went on to become one of the most influential books in literary history, setting the course for the novel for the next century and beyond. Pamela reflects changing social roles in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, as a rising middle class offered women more choices and as traditional master-servant relationships underwent change.… (more)
  1. 41
    Shamela by Henry Fielding (Imprinted, kara.shamy)
    Imprinted: A satiric take on the popular Pamela by one of Richardson's contemporaries.
    kara.shamy: Must read Shamela! It's an incomplete experience to read Richardson's novel or Fielding's satirical take on it apart from the other text, I think...
  2. 10
    Clarissa, or, The History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson (KayCliff)
  3. 00
    Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding (KayCliff)
  4. 11
    Justine by Marquis de Sade (GYKM)
    GYKM: A sadistic parody and critique of Pamela.

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» See also 178 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Said to be the first English novel. Excellent read for the first half, but when Virtue is Rewarded, it rather drags. Has been criticised for going into salacious detail, and this is a reasonable criticism. But we like reading about such things, and reading about virtue is boring. Very interesting for the life of those times, in particular the relationship of master and servants (possibly a bit too rosy), and the treatment of cross-class marriages.
  jgoodwll | Dec 21, 2019 |
To read Pamela Andrews's's letters to her parents you have to surmise she is a really good girl. Who, as a fifteen year old maidservant, sends money home to his or her parents these days? Exactly. Keep in mind this was written in 1740.
Back to Good Girl Pamela. The trouble doesn't really begin for Pamela until her mistress passes away and young Pamela is left deal with the grieving son...only he is not so distraught as one would think. As soon as his mother has passed, his advances while subtle are enough to cause Pamela's parents concern, especially for...you guessed it...her father. Some things haven't changed after all. Maybe dad is thinking as a man instead of a parent when he begins to urge his daughter to come home. Those urgings become more insistent the more Pamela tells them about her employer, Mr. B. After several assaults and an extended "kidnapping" and after Pamela repeatedly tries to return to the safety of her parents, Mr. B. reforms and finally wins Pamela's heart the proper way. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jul 8, 2019 |
A classic novel that didn't live up to expectations. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Mar 10, 2019 |
The more I read of the 18th century, the more I am astonished how long it took people to figure out how to tell a story.

About a quarter of the way through writing 'Pamela' Richardson seems to have realized that the epistolary format is awkward and prevents the author from putting in any sense of suspense or drama into a story. So he half gives it up, getting rid of the letters that chopped up the, I use this word lightly, action and leaves behind a narrative that still lacks all suspense and must keep justifying its existence. Nor does it help that Pamela, modest as she is, can't help but sing the praises of her virtue and prudence at every opportunity. Whether its against cross housemaids who fail to say their prayers every night, crass housekeepers who tell vulgar stories, or noble ladies who turn up their noses at their social inferiors, Pamela is more devout, modestly reticent and utterly without affectation than anybody.

It may be unfair of me to judge Pamela so harshly, however, in the face of the abuse that she takes throughout the book. It's mostly verbal, but this one time she gets smacked on the shoulder and falls down in tears. To spare others the trouble, here's a near-comprehensive list of what Pamela is called by her master, her master's sister and his second-best housekeeper and sometimes she gets so down she calls herself a few things:

(it's half the book, so I don't want to spoil it)

Little fool
Foolish hussy
Foolish slut
Artful young baggage
[one possessed of] vanity and conceit, and pride too
Silly girl
Subtle, artful gypsy
Little equivocator
Equivocator, again!
Pretty fool
Pert creature
Little witch
Idle slut
Little villain
Saucy slut
Naughty girl
Pretty preacher
Ungrateful baggage
An impertinent
"Thou strange medley of inconsistence"
Amiable gewgaw
The speaking picture
The romantic ideot
Unworthy object
Specious hypocrite
Perverse Pamela, ungrateful runaway
Vile forward one
Fallen angel
Mistress of arts
Wicked girl
[one possessed of a] little, plotting, guileful heart
Intriguing little slut [that is, plotting, not interesting]

And don't think each of those was used just once.

And don't think each of those was used just once.

And she still says by the end: "Dear sir, said I, pray give me more of your sweet injunctions."

and later, for the book goes on and on long after it should have left off: "O dearest, dear sir, said I, have you nothing more to honour me with? You oblige and improve me at the same time.--What a happy lot is mine!"

I get that hussy and slut didn't have the connotations they do now - in fact, 'Pamela' marks the beginning of the period in which a common variant for housewife, hussy, became a derogatory term. Thanks Samuel Richardson! - but it leaves me questioning the morals of the whole century.

Indeed. This book could be adapted faithfully and be a harrowing thriller. Richardson intended this book as a guide to young women of proper behavior in distressing situations. I insist that nobody else read this ever again. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Definitely a bit antiquated (total understatement). Predominate thought has been, "Ew, gross." followed closely by, "STOP WITH THE HUMBLE-BRAGGING!"

It's presented the whole way through as if he's doing her such a favour by even giving her the unwanted attention. Super unhealthy abusive (And downright creepy) relationship *every* step of the way. All is forgiven when it really shouldn't be, and by way too many people. All because of holy matrimony. Her father would have prefered her dead otherwise.

Maybe in the 1740s the controlling husband & subservient wife duo were a nice picture of a happy end, but it's a bit jarring; the insinuation that this marriage is God's reward, just ew. Interesting read nonetheless, but yeah... ( )
  iceiris | Feb 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richardson, Samuelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Highmore, JosephCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keymer, ThomasEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sale, Jr. William M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strimban, JackCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strimban, RobertCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wakely, AliceEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My dear Father and Mother, I have great trouble, and some comfort, to acquaint you with.
"And pray," said I, as we walked on, "how came I to be his property? What right has he in me, but such as a thief may plead to stolen goods?"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140431403, 0141199636

W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

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