Clarissa; or the History of a Young Lady (1747-1748), the longest novel to have been written in the English language, is Richardson’s darkest and most brilliant work. The plot is largely unexceptional. Centred around the attempted seduction of a beautiful young woman, Clarissa shares many narrative elements in common with a plethora of early eighteenth-century romances penned by writers such as Eliza Haywood, Penelope Aubin and Mary Delarivière Manley, and draws freely upon the conventions of Restoration tragedy. Yet Clarissa is a unique and uniquely resonant work; a complex, haunting and psychologically compelling exploration of desire, duty and the social dynamics of eighteenth-century culture.
It appears that Richardson began work on his second novel during 1744. Like his other
Citation: Batchelor, Jennie. "Clarissa". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 June 2002 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=5964, accessed 02 December 2023.]