Sarah’s Annotated Bibliography

I’m interested in how Richardson utilizes the epistolary form (it’s one of the more successful epistolary novels I’ve read) and the presence of an “editor” in Clarissa, so I focused on that here.

Babb, Howard S. “Richardson’s Narrative Mode in Clarissa.” Studies in English Literature, vol. 16, no. 3, 1976, pp. 452–60.

Babb examines the way two particular aspects of the narrative mode in Clarissa function: the repeated creation of opposed alternatives (e.g., will Clarissa stay with her family or run away with Lovelace) and the controlled release of information through epistolary techniques to create a text that is always “in motion.” Much of the article is dedicated to a close reading of one letter illustrating these methods. The author also explores the way Richardson dramatizes Lovelace’s fluctuating emotions in this letter.

Johnson, Glen M. “Richarson’s ‘Editor’ in Clarissa. The Journal of Narrative Technique, vol. 10, no. 2, 1980, pp. 99–114.

Johnson’s article aims to correct what he sees as an oversight in previous discussions of Clarissa’s narrative techniques: the role of the Richardson’s “editor.” He both examines the functions of­­­­ the editorial insertions themselves, categorizing them as editorial and interpretive, and looks at the effects of simply having editor. He argues that as well as shaping the reader’s interpretation, the editor lends the book verisimilitude and authority. Ultimately, Johnson makes the case that the editor is a crucial component of both the drama and the tension between intellect and emotion in the novel.

Kaplan, Fred. “‘Our Short Story’: The Narrative Devices of Clarissa.” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900, vol. 11, no. 3, 1971, pp. 549–62.

Kaplan explores how Richardson takes advantage of the epistolary form—and the presence of an “editor”—to handle and manipulate time in Clarissa. He begins with the media res opening the novel and goes on to look at how Richardson utilizes flashback, narrative foreshortening, chronological discontinuity, summary, the delayed release of information, reported scene/dialogue, and other techniques in the novel. The way in which the “clock” of the novel—one year—is deployed is also examined, most particularly in an analysis of two exchanges of letters. 


One thought on “Sarah’s Annotated Bibliography”

  1. Thanks for this, Sarah. I think the big question raised by the (fiction of) an intervening Editor is authority. How does that editor’s shaping and direction help build trust or develop a particular kind of narrative time that is present- and process-oriented rather finished and retrospective. It also links up the incremental disclosure of information with other forms of narrative suspense. How do you think those formal characteristics are linked up with the thematic or generic ones (seduction novel, endless consideration of alternative ways forward, moral self-reflection)?


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