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Passion and Virtue

Passion and Virtue: Essays on the Novels of Samuel Richardson

Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 312
  • Book Info
    Passion and Virtue
    Book Description:

    Richardson's novels reveal the conflict of human passion in all its aspects ? love, lust, and suffering. This conflict is considered and critically analysed in fourteen essays, all originally published in Eighteenth-Century Fiction.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7829-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. A Note on Texts
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-7)
    David Blewett

    The essays in this volume have been collected from among the thirty essays on Samuel Richardson that have appeared inEighteenth-Century Fictionin the first dozen years of publication. As the largest and strongest group of essays on a single author, they are testimony, if one were needed, to the vitality of Richardson studies today. The critical excitement that his novels continue to generate constitutes a powerful response to one of the most passionate of novelists. Richardson’s great theme is human passion, both in its ennobling and its destructive aspects, that is, as love and as lust, but also in...

  7. Pamela’s Textual Authority
    (pp. 8-26)
    John B. Pierce

    Removed from her parents, harassed and imprisoned by her employer, nearly driven to suicide, Richardson’s Pamela attempts to forge a personal identity that balances conflicting claims of authority.¹ As the novel proceeds, Pamela tries to embody her parents’ injunctions and to correct the abuses of aristocratic privilege by Mr B.² Her maturing process culminates in a struggle between Mr B.’s will to power over Pamela and her will to profess and practice virtue. Unfortunately, the authority of Pamela’s appeals to truth and virtue is threatened by her subordinated roles as adolescent, woman, and servant, roles which pose contradicting claims against...

  8. “Ciceronian Eloquence”: The Politics of Virtue in Richardson’s Pamela
    (pp. 27-51)
    John A. Dussinger

    It has usually been taken for granted that the author ofPamelawas wholly sympathetic with the titular heroine in her struggle against her master to maintain her chastity and that her triumph in reforming this upper-class rake was the reward of virtue. I argue here, however, that the novel has a much larger significance in the history of the printing press as a paradoxical and dialogical rendering of the conflict between private expression and public authority. More concretely, Richardson’s long experience as a London printer before producing his first novel at just past the age of fifty, especially his...

  9. The Place of Sally Godfrey in Richardson’s Pamela
    (pp. 52-72)
    Albert J. Rivero

    Near the end of her journal to her parents, while relating the events of her sixth day of happiness, Pamela describes her not-so-happy quarrels with Lady Davers. Angered by her brother’s foolish act of exogamy, Lady Davers fulminates against the docile Pamela with all the aristocratic hauteur she can muster. The scenes, anticipating and answering many of the criticisms raised by the novel’s program of social levelling, display the nastiness and vulgarity of the high-born. Indeed, Lady Davers’s desperate strategies of subjection recall Mr B.’s treatment of Pamela before his conversion, suggesting that her behaviour is typical of her class....

  10. Enclosing the Immovable: Structuring Social Authority in Pamela 2
    (pp. 73-91)
    Betty A. Schellenberg

    InThe Sense of an EndingFrank Kermode dismisses as “simple fictions” those which do not speak of “dissonance, the word set against the word”; opposite these he sets narratives which “continue to interest us” because they “move through time to an end,” because “they live in change, until, which is never,asandisare one.” Realistic fictions, in other words, portray the aspiring individual in inevitable and sustained tension with his or her social environment. Where the eighteenth century is concerned,Pamela, Clarissa, and evenTom Jonesshould “continue to interest us,” while thePamelasequel,Sir Charles...

  11. Protean Lovelace
    (pp. 92-113)
    Jocelyn Harris

    When Clarissa calls Lovelace “a perfect Proteus,” more variable than the chameleon,¹ she points to him as a very icon of the mutability that once meant man’s paradoxical potential for creation and destruction. To Erasmus, Vives, Pico della Mirandola, Ariosto, Montaigne, Burton, Spenser, and Shakespeare, the shape-changing sea-god Proteus was at once lawmaker and lawbreaker. As Spenser says in theMutability Cantos, men “their being doe dilate” by their changes.² Civilization itself results from their restless aspirations to learning and the creative arts. But when, like Proteus in his other manifestations, men hide malignity behind a benvolent mask, creative art...

  12. Clarissa’s Treasonable Correspondence: Gender, Epistolary Politics, and the Public Sphere
    (pp. 114-134)
    Rachel K. Carnell

    In a letter to Lady Bradshaigh, Samuel Richardson emphasized the importance of generating active debate among his readers. He even went as far as to suggest that the readers themselves may become almost author-like in their participation in the public reception of his novels:

    The undecided Events are sufficiently pointed out to the Reader, to whom this Sort of Writing, something, as I have hinted, should be left to make out or debate upon. … It is not an unartful Management to interest the Readers so much in the Story, as to make them differ in Opinion as to Capital...

  13. Is Clarissa Bourgeois Art?
    (pp. 135-151)
    Daniel P. Gunn

    At the beginning ofClarissa, the social atmosphere seems dense, pregnant, thick with meaning. From the start, the heroine entangled in her family’s scheme to accumulate property through marriage and concentrate it on a single heir. Her situation is further complicated by Lovelace’s distinguished family background and the mixture of deference and hostility he prompts in the Harlowes, by the ambiguous status and trajectory of her own estate, and by frequent explosions of social jealousy and resentment from everyone around her. With this much social conflict in the air, it is perhaps not surprising that critics should have concluded that...

  14. Abuse and Atonement: The Passion of Clarissa Harlowe
    (pp. 152-169)
    Peggy Thompson

    While still at Harlowe Place, Richardson’s title character is tormented by the choice her family forces her to make: either she must enter a marriage that is physically, ethically, and spiritually repugnant to her or she must abandon the dutiful obedience by which she has always defined herself. Once Clarissa makes the agonizing decision to leave her father’s house, Lovelace exacerbates the pain of her ostracism with deception, manipulation, confinement, threats, harassment, and, finally, rape. Richardson scholars have discussed this narrative of relentless suffering in scientific, Sadean, iconographic, and biblical contexts, as well as in relation to the literary traditions...

  15. “Written in the Heart”: Clarissa and Scripture
    (pp. 170-209)
    Robert A. Erickson

    Discerning contemporaries well read in Richardson’s fiction established what has come down to us as one of the most frequently invoked clichés of eighteenth-century literary history. In his novels Richardson provided a masterly representation of human “nature,” and he was applauded particularly for his “delineation of the human heart.”¹ The association of the heart and the writing process was always a close one for Richardson. It begins with the heart as memory, an exceedingly sensitive instrument for receiving, recording, preserving, and expressing human experience. In an analogy with the physiological operation of the circulatory system as it was understood after...

  16. The Gnostic Clarissa
    (pp. 210-245)
    Margaret Anne Doody

    Once upon a time there was a Virgin Maid who lived in bliss surrounded by the light in which she participated. In her happy home some say she was placed just below her Mother, in freedom and felicity. But in making a false and deadly contact with an inimical element, whether out of inadvertence, curiosity, or desire, this Virgin Maid lost her happy place. She was deceived and beguiled; she confused the low with the high, the false simulacrum or reflected light with the reality. The arrogant and destructive deceiver who beguiled her brought about her fall. The Lady of...

  17. Sir Charles Grandison: Richardson on Body and Character
    (pp. 246-267)
    Juliet McMaster

    When charms ofmindand person meet, / How rich our raptures rise!” carols Sir Charles Grandison to his bride, while he plays upon “a noble organ” (3:274).¹ The moment forms a climax to the novel, since it is the fullest expression of achieved felicity for Harriet Byron, now Lady Grandison. The full praise of her mind and body, delivered by the husband she loves and admires in the midst of a harmonious gathering of the people most dear to her, is a consummation of her happiness.

    Tears of joy ran down my cheeks. … I was speechless. … I...

  18. “Sufficient to the Day”: Anxiety in Sir Charles Grandison
    (pp. 268-294)
    Lois A. Chaber

    Sir Charles Grandison,aptly characterized by Sylvia Kasey Marks as “the stepbrother of Richardson’s other novels,”¹ has suffered from its reputation as a foray into social comedy in which the novelist abandoned the religious profundity and the psychological complexity ofClarissa. Richardson’s new approach allegedly entailed, at worst, a smug complacency, at best, an idealism and optimism—a stolid faith in the efficacy and benevolence of social institutions. Even sympathetic critics ofGrandisonhave failed to challenge directly Alan D. McKillop’s long-standing excoriation of the novel for its “complacent assumption that polite society can stand, when properly purged of vice...

  19. The Dialectic of Love in Sir Charles Grandison
    (pp. 295-316)
    Wendy Jones

    Samuel Richardson’sSir Charles Grandisonis structured around an event that seems to defy both the novel’s insistent and pervasive moralistic tone and its characterization of Sir Charles as a moral paragon: Sir Charles is in love with two women at the same time. Love for more than one woman is precisely the quality that distinguishes the rake, the kind of man Sir Charles himself excoriates. How can the exemplar of English integrity, who is not merely another worthy hero but a “vision of Christ as a realistic eighteenth-century gentleman,”¹ be involved in what he himself rightly defines as a...

  20. Sir Charles Grandison and the “Language of Nature”
    (pp. 317-332)
    George E. Haggerty

    At one point early in her involvement with the Grandison family circle, Harriet Byron asks a series of rhetorical questions which expose the central obsessions of Richardson’s final novel:

    And why is the Grecian Homer, to this day, so much admired, as he is in all these nations, and in every other nation where he has been read, and will be, to the world’s end, but because he writes to nature? And is not the language of nature one language throughout the world, tho’ there are different modes of speech to express it by?¹

    Harriet gives vent to this seemingly...

  21. Index
    (pp. 333-344)