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Or, The History of a Young Lady (Abridged Edition)

Written by: Samuel Richardson
Edited by: Toni Bowers & John Richetti

Series: Broadview Editions

Publication Date: November 05, 2010
808pp • Paperback / PDF / ePub
ISBN: 9781551114750 / 1551114755

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This classic novel tells the story, in letters, of the beautiful and virtuous Clarissa Harlowe's pursuit by the brilliant, unscrupulous rake Robert Lovelace. The epistolary structure allows Richardson to create layered and fully realized characters, as well as an intriguing uncertainty about the reliability of the various "narrators." Clarissa emerges as a heroine at once rational and passionate, self-sacrificing and defiant, and her story has gripped readers since the novel's first publication in 1747-1748.

This new abridgment is designed to retain the novel's rich characterizations and relationships, and reproduces individual letters in their entirety whenever possible. This Broadview Edition provides a uniquely accessible entry point for readers, while retaining much of the powerful reading experience of the complete novel.


"Clarissa is one of the towering masterpieces of the eighteenth century, and it is impossible to understand the literature of the period and the rise of the novel without it. This new edition provides a rigorously conceived, expertly executed solution to the problem of abridgment, and restores to the undergraduate classroom a work previously excluded by sheer length." - Thomas Keymer, University of Toronto

"Arguably the best novel published in Great Britain in the eighteenth century and an undisputed landmark of European literature, Clarissa, at over a million words, is too long for the undergraduate classroom. Here, finally, is an abridgment that, while reducing its length, remains faithful to the spirit of the original. Based on the text of the third edition and judiciously edited by Toni Bowers and John Richetti, the Broadview Clarissa superbly fills a long-standing pedagogical need. With its excellent introduction, detailed notes, and generous background and contextual materials, this edition makes Richardson's masterpiece accessible to twenty-first century students." - Albert J. Rivero, Marquette University

"Eager to introduce rather than replace a masterpiece, Richetti and Bowers offer a practical classroom compromise to the familiar problem of Richardson's prolixity. Surely an abridgment of this magnitude—with its smart choice of the 1751 third edition as copy text, its accessible introduction and notes, and an appendix that resurrects important historical contexts—will tempt new generations of readers to consider, eventually, all of Clarissa." - Janine Barchas, University of Texas at Austin

Toni Bowers is Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. John Richetti is A.M. Rosenthal Professor (Emeritus) of English at the University of Pennsylvania. Both have published widely on eighteenth-century fiction.

Table of Contents: [Back to Top]



Samuel Richardson: A Brief Chronology

A Note on the Text


Appendix A: Letters

  1. Henry Fielding, "To Samuel Richardson."
  2. Samuel Richardson, "To Lady Bradshaigh."
  3. Mrs. Belfour [Lady Dorothy Bradshaigh, who began writing to Richardson under this pseudonym as the first volumes of Clarissa appeared], "To Mr. Richardson."
  4. Samuel Richardson and Albrecht von Haller, "An Account of Clarissa and Richardson's Reply, Gentlemen's Magazine, XIX, June and July 1749."

Appendix B: Criticism

  1. Samuel Johnson. The Rambler, 4, March 31, 1750.
  2. Johannes Stinstra, "From a Letter of Johannes Stinstra," December 24, 1752.
  3. From Lady Elizabeth Echlin, An Alternative Ending to Richardson's Clarissa (1754-5).
  4. Denis Diderot, "Eulogy of Richardson" (1761)
  5. James Beattie, From On Fable and Romance (1783)
  6. From Anna Laetitia Barbauld, "Life of Samuel Richardson, with Remarks on his Writings" (1804)

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2010 • 808pp • Paperback • 9781551114750 / 1551114755

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Broadview Press acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, and also acknowledges the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Freehand Books, an imprint of Broadview, acknowledges the support of the Canadian Council of the Arts.