Clarissa Readalong [January]

Author: Samuel Richardson, 1748
Genre: Epistolary, Drama
Format: Ebook, 9 volumes

Woo-hoo, I’m still in the race. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people were actually betting on me to drop out of the readalong. But not today, as I actually managed to read the first six letters on time, and even (look at me going) to post about my experiences as promised. You might think it’s nothing, but I am very proud of myself. Now, back to this monster everyone dares to call a novel.

My first thoughts when reading Clarissa were consumed by the stark similarities between this novel and another one I’ve read just recently – Pride & Prejudice. How so, you might wonder? Well, tell me if this is not a familiar situation. A man, disliked by many for no apparent reason other than his I’m-better-than-you attitude, proposes to a lady, but upon being rejected tries to woo another five minutes later with the same kind of eagerness. Check out this little paragraph:

However, it was not doubted but he would soon be more importunate, since his visits were more frequent, and he acknowledged to my aunt Harvey a passion for me, accompanied with an awe that he had never known before; to which he attributed what he called his but seeming acquiescence with my father’s pleasure, and the distance I kept him at. And yet, my dear, this may be his usual manner of behaviour to our sex; for had not my sister at first all his reverence?

The matter of fact, just like in P&P, the guy thinks that rejection is a sign of the lady’s flirtation and desire to seem unattainable. It’s like Richardson took the worst in Mr. Darcy, mixed it with annoying persistence of Mr. Collins, and created Robert Lovelace (if Austen lived a century earlier, of course). It’s entertaining to see how courtship used to be so consistent through 18th and 19th century, only to be drastically changed in our modern times. Only in case of Arabella, she went too far in her desire to seem unobtainable, and she lost her suitor’s interests altogether. Oh Lovelace, you’re a fuzzball of endless amusement. Obviously, nobody in the house wants him around, yet he has the audacity to show up whenever he pleases! Cannot wait until he showcases his point of view, instead of being passively described through Clarissa’s letters to a friend. And speaking of her correspondence, I can’t quite understand why Clarissa keeps sending letters to Lovelace, even though sometimes she doesn’t like the tone in which his replies are written. Hopefully February reading will explain some things better, and for now I will try my best to get used to Richardson flowery and twisty prose.

9 comments

  1. She’s sending him the letters because he is threatening to dual his brother again, or maybe even her uncles unless she writes.

  2. That brother of hers is annoying. I say she should let Lovelace poke another hole in him 🙂

  3. Ha – flowery and twisted is the perfect description of the prose! It does slow me down a bit, but I’m starting to get used to it. I love your P&P comparison… looking forward to the February letters.

  4. I am going to have to rethink what I read, in light of your comments. I was not thinking “Austen” at all, and in fact thought that Clarissa had a far more “modern” feel than P&P and S&S. I liked your comparisons to the “annoying” Mr. Collins, though. I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this book as the read along progresses!

  5. Perhaps I thought of Austen because I had just finished it in December and I formed a certain opinion about the representation of marriage in the times described. I wouldn’t be surprised that nobody else made the same connection. I’m going take a look if next chapters would remind me of Austen in any way.

  6. “It’s like Richardson took the worst in Mr. Darcy, mixed it with annoying persistence of Mr. Collins, and created Robert Lovelace.” I love it! I think we are all looking forward to February to see if Lovelace can explain himself satisfactorily.

  7. I thought Clarissa’s commentary on her sister’s courtship was very humorous. Fun reading which it seems everyone is enjoying.

  8. @JoAnn Sometimes I have to reread a sentence to get what it says. Hopefully I will get used to it in time, so I am not slowed down anymore. Thanks for hosting this readalong!

    @Terri B. Something tells me I am going to like that villain Lovelace! I am sure all bloggers will have a lot to talk about when he speaks.

    @Cat Ah, courtships… they always make me giggle!

  9. I like the P&P comparisons. Clarissa reminded me of Elizabeth Bennett in her witty descriptions of her family members. It is quite humorous that he keeps showing up even though he is unwanted.

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