Told in a series of letters, it is a story of a serving maid who is relentlessly pursued by her dead mistress's son. In defending her virginity so vigorously, Pamela, the first important English heroine to actually work for her living, rebels against the social attitudes which dictated that lower-class girls were not supposed to set a value on themselves. In this respect, and as a fictional tour de force which pointed out new directions in subject, style and form, Pamela is revolutionary. Dealing with matters as serious as the perversion of sex into power and the human need for freedom, it is also an absorbing, often comic, highly charged love story of two countrified, buptious, ignorant, egotistical and superbly human young people. This edition, based on the 1801 text and incorporating corrections made in 1810, makes Richardson's final version of the original two-volume novel generally available for the first time.
"I cannot be patient, I cannot be passive, when my virtue is in danger."
Fifteen-year-old Pamela Andrews, alone and unprotected, is relentlessly pursued by her dead mistresss son. Although she is attracted to young Mr B., she holds out against his demands and threats of abduction and rape, determined to defend her virginity and abide by her own moral standards. Psychologically acute in its investigations of sex, freedom and power, Richardsons first novel caused a sensation when it was first 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 its hero.
This edition incorporates all the revisions made by Richardson in his lifetime. Margaret A. Doodys introduction discusses the genre of epistolary novels, and examines characterization, the role of women and class differences in Pamela.
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Samuel Richardson (1689-1761) was born in Derbyshire, the son of a joiner. He received little formal education and in 1706 was apprenticed to a printer in London. Thirteen years later he set himself up as a stationer and printer and became of the leading figures in the trade. He printed political material, newspapers and literature. He began writing Pamela as a result of a suggestion from friends that he should compile a book of model letters for use by unskilled writers. Pamela was a great success and went on to write Clarissa, one of the masterpieces of European literature.
Margaret Anne Doody is a professor of Literature at the University of Notre Dame and has published widely on in literary criticism.
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