Samuel Richardson, Clarissa

Jennie Batchelor (University of Kent at Canterbury)
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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,


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


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

2166 words

Citation: Batchelor, Jennie. "Clarissa". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 June 2002 [, accessed 16 July 2024.]

5964 Clarissa 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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