Clarissa Harlowe, or the History of a Young Lady (Volume I of II): 1 by Samuel Richardson

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Samuel Richardson
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Book review

First published in 1748, "Clarissa" is the long and tragic tale of the ever-virtuous Miss Clarissa Harlowe. Though her family, newly wealthy, wishes to enter the aristocracy, they can only do so by marrying Clarissa to an unrefined and loveless man. She is soon offered protection from the selfish motives of her family by Robert Lovelace, who tricks Clarissa into running away with him. Though witty and urbane, Lovelace soon proves himself a villainous rake, eager to strike out at the Harlowes by making sexual advances on their highly moral daughter. Clarissa repeatedly refuses the vague offers of marriage Lovelace gives her, deceiving herself by denying her physical attraction to him, yet holding true to her belief in virtue, even as she grows increasingly ill from the stress of her situation. A masterful epistolary novel, "Clarissa" is a tragic heroine who remains true to her quest for virtue to the very end. Contained in this book is the first of two volumes.


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