Pamela : or, Virtue Rewarded

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Samuel Richardson's Pamela is a captivating story of one young woman's rebellion against the social order, edited by Peter Sabor with an introduction by Margaret A. Doody in Penguin Classics. Fifteen-year-old Pamela Andrews, alone in the world, is pursued by her dead mistress's son. Although she is attracted to Mr B, she holds out against his demands and threats of abduction and rape, determined to protect her virginity and abide by her moral standards. Psychologically acute in its explorations of sex, freedom and power, Richardson's first novel caused a sensation when it was published, with its depiction of a servant heroine who dares to assert herself. Richly comic and full of lively scenes and descriptions, Pamela contains a diverse cast of characters ranging from the vulgar and malevolent Mrs Jewkes to the aggressive but awkward country squire who serves this unusual love story as both its villain and hero. In her introduction, Margaret Ann Doody discusses the epistolary genre of novels and examines the role of women and class differences. This edition, based on the 1801 text and incorporating corrections made in 1810, makes Richardson's final version of the two-volume generally available for the first time. Samuel Richardson (1689-1761) was born in Derbyshire, the son of a joiner. He received little formal education, but in 1706 was apprenticed to a London printer, going on to become a leading figure of the trade in the capital. Pamela originated as a volume of model letters for unskilled letter-writers, but as Richardson became more fascinated by the characters in his letters than the letters themselves, the germ of a novel began to emerge. Upon its publication in 1740 Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded became a national sensation. If you enjoyed Pamela, you might like Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders, also available in Penguin more

Product details

  • Paperback | 544 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 28mm | 358.34g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Repr.
  • notes
  • 0140431403
  • 9780140431407
  • 75,899

About Samuel Richardson

Born in 1689, Samuel Richardson was the son of a London joiner. He received little formal education but went on to acheive great acclaim and popularity through his writing. He was married twice, had twelve children, and died in 1761. M.A Doody is Professor of Literature at the University of Notre Dame, she has published widely on in literary more

Review Text

Considering that it was first published more than 250 years ago, Pamela is still a shocking book. Written by a man, it is a strong denunciation of a man's abuse of his power over a woman. Pamela is a 14-year-old maid whose mistress, Lady B, has just died. Her young master takes a fancy to Pamela, but his social status naturally means that he can't make honourable advances to her. In a series of letters to her parents, and later in a private journal, Pamela recounts the attempts Mr B makes on her virtue, and her own staunch resistance. Her master eventually abducts Pamela to another house, where she is kept prisoner by the frightful Mrs Jewkes. The outcome is as unlikely as it is satisfactory. For the modern reader, Pamela has strong elements of the ludicrous. The heroine spends most of the book with her apron over her face, bawling her eyes out. And Mr B is an unconvincing villain. His attempts at rape are rather too easily discouraged, and when thwarted he sulks and stamps his feet like a child. The strength of the book, though, is its basic premise: that no human being has the right to exercise power over another to their detriment, whatever their status. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

7,537 ratings
2.76 out of 5 stars
5 9% (710)
4 17% (1,283)
3 31% (2,339)
2 25% (1,906)
1 17% (1,299)
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