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Old 05-01-2008, 07:43 AM   #1
HarryT
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Post Richardson, Samuel: Pamela. v1, 1 May 2008

Pamela, originally published in 1740, is widely regarded as the first ever English novel. Although some authorities consider the works of earlier authors such as Defoe to be novels, it is probably true to say that most do not, and that Pamela is the first work generally considered to be a novel. For this reason it is an enormously important work.

This book contains Pamela, its sequel (generally referred to as simply Pamela, Volume II), and Samuel Richardson's complete original introduction to the work (very often omitted from modern versions, but nonetheless interesting to read).

Like many early novels, Pamela is "epistolary" in form - ie, it tells its story through letters and diaries, rather than as a straightforward narrative.

As the book opens, Pamela, a 15 year old ladies' maid, is wondering what to do following the death of her mistress. She fears the attention of her late mistress's son (known only as "Mr. B.", throughout the novel), (quite rightly) worrying that he will try to take advantage of her. The novel tells the story of Mr. B's attempts to seduce Pamela, leading to his eventual imprisonment of her on his country estate, initially via letters to her parents and later, once she has been imprisoned, via a series of diary entries. Pamela's virtuous conduct eventually wins over Mr. B, he marries her, and the novel goes on to describe her attempts to win over Mr. B's family and friends, all of whom are shocked that he has married so far beneath his social class, and who tend to despise Pamela as a "gold digger".

Pamela is a wonderful portrayal of everyday life in the middle of the 18th century in England, and a fabulous read.

Enjoy!
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