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Samuel Richardson and the Dramatic Novel

Samuel Richardson and the Dramatic Novel

Copyright Date: 1968
Pages: 152
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  • Book Info
    Samuel Richardson and the Dramatic Novel
    Book Description:

    Samuel Richardson, the founder of the modern English novel, gave shape to a previously unformed literary genre. Instrumental in the development of this new art form, Ira Konigsberg contends, is the influence of the drama. Although scholars have long suspected the influence of drama on Richardson's writing, this is the first study to examine it in detail.

    In such matters as material, technique, and structure, Konigsberg seeks to show that Richardson found his precedents in Restoration and early eighteenth-century drama and that it was his integration of these dramatic elements with fiction which caused the mutation in genre that is responsible for the subsequent course of the English novel.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6372-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. ii-vi)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Before the novels of Samuel Richardson, English fiction was mostly an inconsequential and undisciplined literary form, written by unskilled writers to entertain the less civilized sensibilities of the reader. The novels of Daniel Defoe were more advanced in technique and less superficial in the presentation of human character, but they still belonged to the tradition of rogue fiction and fell short of Richardson’s artistic achievements. The modern novel began with Richardson, and whether or not we are repelled by his puritanism, didacticism, and sentimentality, we must recognize that he did more for the new art form than any other writer...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Novelist & Critic of the Drama
    (pp. 7-16)

    As a boy Richardson chose to be apprentice to a printer because he thought that the position “would gratify” his “Thirst after Reading”; as an apprentice he “stole from the Hours of Rest & Relaxation, . . . Reading Times for Improvement of [his] Mind.”¹ That Richardson read much throughout his life is demonstrated by his correspondence and by references in his novels, but his reading, for the most part, was scattered and superficial. Richardson had no knowledge of classical and foreign languages. A statement by Harriet Byron inSir Charles Grandisonsuggests that the novelist knew the works of...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Maidens & Libertines
    (pp. 17-56)

    InPamelaare a rich gentleman and a beautiful, virtuous, but impoverished maiden; these characters are attracted to each other and after overcoming certain obstacles are united. This is a version of what might best be called the Cinderella myth.¹ For that matter, Griselda and Walter, Jane Eyre and Rochester, and Sally and Matt Monday also are Cinderellas and Prince Charmings. Life is comprised of those who have and those who have not, and from time immemorial the less fortunate have desired to become the more fortunate. The natural way for a person in the lower class to achieve a...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Sentimental Literature & Static Sensibility
    (pp. 57-73)

    Consciously and consistently Richardson tries to edify the reader by having him feel pity for the moral characters when they suffer and happiness when they prosper.¹ At the same time, he lauds in his works such humanitarian qualities as sympathy, altruism, and benevolence.² The moral emotionalism and humanitarianism in his fiction make Richardson the first sentimental novelist and link his works with the sentimental drama of the period.³ But most important is his detailed presentation of emotion, which brought a new dimension to characterization in the novel. Curiously, scholars have noted only the relationship of Richardson’s novels to the general...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR The Tragedy of Clarissa
    (pp. 74-94)

    Richardson generally thought ofClarissaas a tragedy, and he often defended the novel according to methods and rules of the tragic drama. In the “Prefatical Hints” Richardson claims that the work “is indeed intended to be of the Tragic Species”;¹ in the Postscript toClarissahe justifies his novel by the neo-classic concepts of poetic justice, the tragic hero, and unity of action, and he quotes at length from discussions of tragic theory by Addison and Rapin; and in the novel itself Richardson has Belford discuss Clarissa as a subject suitable for tragic presentation: “What a fine Subject for...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE The Dramatic Novel
    (pp. 95-124)

    Extended narratives in prose had been written for centuries in England before Richardson began work on his novels. Like countless authors before him, he wrote his fiction by creating characters and involving them in a series of related actions, narrated through description and dialogue. He was not the first to call his novels histories, nor was he the first to use the epistolary form. But the differences between Richardson’s novels and earlier fiction are significant; his works possess elements that rarely had appeared in fiction, elements that changed the entire concept of the novel. The very differences that distinguish Richardson’s...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 125-136)
  11. Index
    (pp. 137-142)