Wednesday, August 10, 2011

23. Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded

Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded
Samuel Richardson
Richardson pamela 1741.jpg
Well, that was weird.

Let me start by explaining the kind of surreal story.  A fifteen-year-old servant named Pamela is kidnapped by her master after several failed attempts to rape her.  She is kept prisoner and subjected to all sorts of horrors.  For instance, he insists on reading all her letters and her diary.  She is also called a bunch of names like "slut" or "sauce-box."  Finally, she realizes (who wouldn't?) that she is in love with him.  Um, okay.  The second part of novel recounts their marriage and her attempt to fit into high society.


This is an absolutely insane, sexist novel.  In one part, Mr. B. claims that the greatest thing a wife should fear is the disapproval of her husband.  Like hell.  Anyway, I feel we have to put all this aside (it was the 1700s after all) and focus on the writing.

I will start with what I liked.  It is an epistolary novel which I love (Dracula is one of my favorites).  The writing is actually quite clever and some of Pamela's conversations are extremely witty and interesting.  On the other hand, some of the writing is elementary.  It is one of those things where the good characters are attractive and the evil characters are revolting.  Also, Richardson lays it on a little thick when it comes to Pamela.  She is virtually perfect: beautiful, smart, virtuous, innocent, kind, etc.  No depth. And it is not enough that we figure that out, every other second someone is complimenting her on her wit or beauty.  Still, this novel was very entertaining and I was rarely bored with it (although some events seemed to repeat themselves).  Don't expect a daring tale about escaping from prisons.  She doesn't really do anything about her imprisonment.  A good read, nonetheless, despite logic and reason having gone out the window.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

The book messed up!  This came before Joseph Andrews (it had to have because Joseph Andrews is kind of a spoof off this).

The next book is a real whopper.  Clarissa is 1500 pages of pretty much the same story but I am still looking forward to it.

Widely read and debated in its time.

Henry Fielding and Eliza Haywood both wrote Pamela spoofs.

I cannot imagine that this would be a movie.

22. Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus

Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus
Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, John Arbuthnot, Thomas Parnell, and Henry St. John

Don't get the wrong impression from how long it took me to put up this post.  This book took like three weeks to get here but I was able to read it in one sitting.  But I have been reading ahead so more posts are going to be up shortly!

This book was written by the Scriblerus club (I wonder if they had jackets).  Is that not the most pretentious name of a club that you have ever heard in your life?  The story follows Martinus Scriblerus and includes a story about him being in love with himself and his failed marriage. Each member wrote a different chapter.  The foreword of my edition showed how cocky there were.  They called themselves "the greatest wits of their age."  Gees, guys show some humility...

If you have read my previous reviews, you know how I feel about Swift.  I expected to really hate this book.  However, I only ended up sort of hating it.  It is extremely pretentious.  The kind of book that rich, snobby people would describe as drole.  I didn't think it was funny at all.  I mean, I don't have a scathological sense of humor by any means but it was still way too uppity for me.  However, it was understandable and short so it didn't bother me too much because I didn't waste much time with it.  I would skip it.  You wouldn't miss much.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

This was an incomplete satirical novel.  They said in the ending that they would continue with more volumes but apparently they all died before they got the chance.

Martinus Scriblerus was a pseudonym of Pope's.

No video.  Surprisingly enough, this hasn't been made into a movie!