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.


  1. Hello there! I found your blog through that Goodreads post in the 1001 Books group. I look forward to your progress, and good luck-seems like most people give up somewhere around DON QUIXOTE ;)

  2. I enjoyed Pamela for the WTF moments. It was a sort of comedy. I read it about 20 years ago before I started this challenge. I will be reading it again v soon!

  3. Thanks Amanda! I am a bit past that point but not out of the danger zone yet haha.

    I enjoyed Pamela for those moments too. I wish it was supposed to be a comedy!

  4. Yeah, I am somewhat conflicted too. As long as Pamela is hunted this book works so well, and then we get a bad case of Stockholm syndrome. WTF!