Clarissa: The Twentieth-Century Response, 1900-1950, 2 vols.

April 18, 2018

Clarissa: The Twentieth-Century Response, 1900-1950, 2 vols.


     Volume 1: The Conversation about Clarissa, 1900-1950.

                         ISBN 9781912224500


     Volume 2: Clarissa's Reception, 1900-1950.

                         ISBN 9781912224524


This two-volume anthology differs from "critical heritage" or "best essays" collections in which each entry earns a place through the editor's belief that it offers an original or indispensable insight. Instead, my selections chart Clarissa's critical reception to illuminate the evolving cultural issues and changing political circumstances that have shaped that very reception. Toward this end, I include responses not only from literary scholars, but also from public officials, novelists and other artists, librarians, historians, journalists and diverse social commentators on the twentieth century itself. This collection provides, in effect, a cultural and literary history of the early twentieth century, displayed in the ample and varied response to Richardson's novel. 


In volume 2, I reprint important critical, intellectual and aesthetic responses to Richardson's novel from 1900 to 1950, when Frank Kermode reassessed the relative significance of Richardson and Henry Fielding and affirmed the superior "value" of Richardson's moral and formal achievement.  Several of the works appear in English translation for the first time.


In volume 1, I offer an extensive introduction to the reprinted materials, telling the story of Clarissa's early twentieth-century reception, making frequent references to passages in volume 2.  In this introduction I pursue four main goals: to place the critical materials I have gathered in their immediate historical contexts; to offer insight into works conceived at a time when the discipline of English Studies as we know it was in its earliest stages of development; to illuminate the significance of responses to Clarissa that seem outdated or naive by today's scholarly standards; and to identify recurrent themes, highlighting the novel's ongoing and often controversial appeal in the first half of the twentieth century.


Pre-publication copies are available from Edward Everett Root Publishers Co. Ltd.,


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