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date: 27 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Despite having turned 50 before publishing his first novel, Samuel Richardson’s literary career began already in his youth as a precocious letter-writer and developed during the 1720s after launching his London printing business. Richardson’s letter-writing style stresses continual flux as living experience, and this emphasis on temporality is continued in his three experimental ‘histories’ of characters struggling under the pressure of momentary perceptions. As a ‘dramatic’ novel, Clarissa exploits the resources of theatrical presentation as direct discourse and of narrative storytelling as indirect and free indirect discourse. Its epistolary form obviates an omniscient narrator and, except for an occasional ‘editor’, depends wholly on the individual voices that comprise piecemeal the story. This focus on temporality, however, has ultimately a religious and moral dimension: beyond the sound and the fury of present time is an intimation of eternal order.

Keywords: Samuel Richardson, narrative, epistolary novel, free indirect discourse, sentimental, Pamela, Clarissa, Sir Charles Grandison

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