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In an Ocean of Elizabeths

Terry Eagleton: Rochester, 23 October 2014

Blazing Star: The Life and Times of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
by Alexander Larman.
Head of Zeus, 387 pp., £25, July 2014, 978 1 78185 109 8
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... not despite their wickedness but because of it. Rochester is finally redeemed, but the puritanical Samuel Richardson extends no such mercy to the dastardly Lovelace, and the aristocrats of the Gothic novel are by and large more predatory than enticing. Like sexuality itself, the nobility is both attractive and alarming. In his biography of the real-life ...

Too Good and Too Silly

Frank Kermode: Could Darcy Swim?, 30 April 2009

The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Vol. IX: Later Manuscripts 
edited by Janet Todd and Linda Bree.
Cambridge, 742 pp., £65, December 2008, 978 0 521 84348 5
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Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World 
by Claire Harman.
Canongate, 342 pp., £20, April 2009, 978 1 84767 294 0
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... the need for them), there are some prayers of unsettled authorship, a dramatisation of part of Samuel Richardson’s novel Sir Charles Grandison, admittedly of little interest in itself, and some poems of which the same might be said. The 100-page introduction is lovingly minute in its coverage of early commentary, and the annotations are careful and ...

Clarissa and Louisa

Karl Miller, 7 November 1985

Clarissa, or the History of a Young Lady 
by Samuel Richardson, edited with an introduction by Angus Ross.
Viking, 1533 pp., £19.95, August 1985, 0 670 80829 6
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Memoire of Frances, Lady Douglas 
by Lady Louisa Stuart, edited by Jill Rubenstein.
Scottish Academic Press, 106 pp., £9.50, August 1985, 0 7073 0358 3
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... and constructions of the biographer of a friend. The first is the more than a million words of Samuel Richardson’s novel Clarissa, whose first edition has been issued by Penguin in the guise of a slab of gold bullion. The second is by an admirer of Richardson’s novels, two generations later – Lady Louisa ...

Preceding Backwardness

Margaret Anne Doody, 9 January 1992

Women’s Lives and the 18th-Century English Novel 
by Elizabeth Bergan Brophy.
University of South Florida Press, 291 pp., $29.95, April 1991, 0 8130 1036 5
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Fictions of Modesty: Women and Courtship in the English Novel 
by Ruth Bernard Yeazell.
Chicago, 306 pp., £19.95, August 1991, 0 226 95096 4
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... us a section of information derived from the novels, restricted to the work of seven novelists: Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Sarah Fielding, Charlotte Lennox, Sarah Scott, Clara Reeve and Frances Burney. (There are occasional references to other writers, such as Jane Austen.) A segment on, for instance, ‘Daughters’ will discuss daughters and ...

I ham sorry

Norma Clarke: Poor Lore, 1 August 2019

Writing the Lives of the English Poor, 1750s-1830s 
by Steven King.
McGill, 480 pp., £27.99, February 2019, 978 0 7735 5649 2
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... be pushed back to the 1820s at least, though that still seems late when you consider that in 1740 Samuel Richardson constructed an entire novel in letters supposedly written by a 16-year-old servant girl, Pamela, to her impoverished ...

Cultivating Cultivation

John Mullan: English culture, 18 June 1998

The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the 18th Century 
by John Brewer.
HarperCollins, 448 pp., £19.99, January 1997, 0 00 255537 9
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... could enjoy reproductions of pictures scattered throughout Europe.’ We hear the Whig politician Samuel Romilly remembering how the Soho parlour of his tradesman father was a little gallery, ‘elegantly adorned’ with ‘the beautiful prints of Vivares, Bartolozzi or Strange, from the pictures of Claude, Caracci, Raphael and Correggio’. Engravers arrived ...

Great Portland Street Blues

Karl Miller, 25 January 1990

Boswell: The Great Biographer. Journals: 1789-1795 
by James Boswell, edited by Marlies Danziger and Frank Brady.
Heinemann, 432 pp., £25, November 1989, 0 434 89729 9
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... may have many gratifications but the comfort of life is at an end.’ His friend and master, Samuel Johnson, is dead. His ‘valuable spouse’, a spouse much deserted, has just suffered a slow and harrowing death from consumption, and he has to contend with expressions of sorrow and remorse: ‘the sad recollection of my irreparable loss hung at my ...

My Faults, My Follies

Helen Deutsch: Laetitia Pilkington, ‘Foot-ball of Fortune’, 17 July 2008

Queen of the Wits: A Life of Laetitia Pilkington 
by Norma Clarke.
Faber, 364 pp., £20, February 2008, 978 0 571 22428 9
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... in its inversion of perspective as Gulliver’s Travels; and as sentimental as the novels of Samuel Richardson, a patron for whom Pilkington provided inside information on the workings of the female heart and the doings of London libertines, and from whom she learned to write to the moment, and to keep in mind new possibilities for a woman’s ...

What did she do with those beds?

Thomas Keymer: Eliza Haywood, 3 January 2013

A Political Biography of Eliza Haywood 
by Kathryn King.
Pickering and Chatto, 288 pp., £60, June 2012, 978 1 85196 917 3
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... erotic novels of the 1720s were noisily disparaged by canonical pioneers of the genre such as Samuel Richardson (though Richardson neglected to add that in his professional, book-trade capacity he had printed some of her steamiest works, including the bestselling Love in Excess). The quiet absorption by later ...


Terry Eagleton: Anonymity, 22 May 2008

Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature 
by John Mullan.
Faber, 374 pp., £17.99, January 2008, 978 0 571 19514 5
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... of the play’s meaning, even though they may never be realised. One of the finest English novels, Samuel Richardson’s 18th-century masterpiece Clarissa, became newly readable in the light of the 20th-century women’s movement. Works of literature, then, are to some extent cut free from those who engender them, wandering through the world to accumulate ...

Vibrations of Madame de V***

John Mullan: Malcolm Bradbury, 20 July 2000

To the Hermitage 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Picador, 498 pp., £16, May 2000, 0 330 37662 4
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... could give the Novel its generic power was psychological exactitude, especially in the hands of Samuel Richardson. Before Pamela and Clarissa, the term roman referred, he wrote, to ‘a tissue of fantastic and frivolous events which presented a threat to the taste and morals of its readers. I should like another name to be found for the works of ...

Father Bosco to Africa

Walter Nash, 5 February 1987

The Red Men 
by Patrick McGinley.
Cape, 304 pp., £10.95, January 1987, 0 224 02386 1
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Chat Show 
by Terence de Vere White.
Gollancz, 207 pp., £9.95, January 1987, 0 575 03910 8
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Leaden Wings 
by Zhang Jie, translated by Gladys Yang.
Virgo, 180 pp., £9.95, January 1987, 0 86068 759 7
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Russian Novel 
by Edward Kuznetsov, translated by Jennifer Bradshaw.
Quartet, 285 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 7043 2522 5
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Richard Robertovich 
by Mark Frankland.
Murray, 216 pp., £9.95, January 1987, 0 7195 4330 4
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... should be writing a thesis on the idea of seduction as extended metaphor in the works of Samuel Richardson), and his evocations of landscape and seascape are successful, not simply as description, but as definitions of a mythic environment. There is much to praise, and yet there remains one fairly considerable reservation: the book belies the ...

Crossed Palettes

Ronald Paulson, 4 November 1993

Painting for Money: The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in 18th-Century England 
by David Solkin.
Yale, 312 pp., £40, July 1993, 0 300 05741 5
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... the viability of ballads like ‘Chevy Chase’ and other transgressions of ‘fancy’. Only Samuel Richardson really strove for refinement, which, as the result proved, was writing against his grain. Refinement was of course a strong, though highly ironised, element in Sterne’s novels. Even Reynolds was quite capable of the ...

I am an irregular verb

Margaret Anne Doody: Laetitia Pilkington, 22 January 1998

Memoirs of Laetitia Pilkington 
edited by A.C. Elias.
Georgia, 348497 pp., £84.95, May 1997, 0 8203 1719 5
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... themselves, her riposte to all who have despitefully used her. They thus coincide oddly with Richardson’s Clarissa (1747-48), though in that instance the heroine has to trust that the posthumous editing of collected papers will do her justice. Both Mrs Pilkington’s Memoirs and Clarissa are works of vindication, retorts to a cruel and wrongheaded ...

Saint Terence

Jonathan Bate, 23 May 1991

Ideology: An Introduction 
by Terry Eagleton.
Verso, 242 pp., £32.50, May 1991, 0 86091 319 8
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... stab the high priest in the back.’ The appropriation for radical purposes of canonical writers (Samuel Richardson in The Rape of Clarissa of 1982, Shakespeare in the series of revisionary readings of the canon which Eagleton edits for Blackwell) mirrors the attempt of Terence and his fellow authors of The Slant Manifesto (1966) to radicalise the ...

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