Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady

Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady

Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady

Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady

Excerpt

Few novels have ever been so widely and highly praised as “ The History of Clarissa Harlowe.” At the time of its first appearance, more than a century ago, it was read and wept over, and talked about by every one in England who could read at all; much more literally than even of Dickens’ novels, it can be said that it reached the entire reading class. Nor was this merely a popular success. Sherlock commended it (and “ Pamela”) from the pulpit; Pope praised it in terms unusual with him ; Doctor Johnson declared it to be the first book in the world for the knowledge it displays of the human heart ; Sir James Mackintosh thought it the finest work of fiction ever written in any language; Sir Walter Scott said that “ no work had appeared before, perhaps none has appeared since, containing such direct appeals to the passions in a manner so irresistible;” and Lord Macaulay is reported to have known it almost by heart. In France, too, the fame of Richardson reached an eminence scarcely ever attained there by a foreign author. Diderot and Rousseau compared him with Homer; and it is said that for many years Frenchmen visiting England were wont to seek the Flask Walk at Hampstead— the scene of one of the episodes in “Clarissa”—in the belief that the novel recorded historic fact. More than this, the two principal characters of the story have passed into literature and conversation as types ; and thousands use Lovelace and Clarissa as standards of comparison without any idea of how they got their attributes.

Why is it then, that, outside a small circle of scholars and critics, we so seldom meet with any one nowadays, who has read . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.