by Samuel Richardson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Pamela, Shamela / 0-451-51366-5
Richardson's over-wrought "Pamela" and Fielding's under-schooled "Shamela" combine in a wonderful two novels, dually packed for your enjoyment.
"Pamela", the precursor to Richardson's excellent but somewhat sluggish "Clarissa", details an innocent young girl, in the hands of a rogue who wants to ruin and rape her, but fortunately reforms through her unconditional love and they live happily ever after. Full of pages of hysterics, the novel was widely lampooned both in its own time and today for such scenes as Pamela's fear and trembling during a half-baked escape attempt when her passage is blocked by a horrible, frightful monster who later turns out to be...a common dairy cow. Pamela's motives were questioned widely at the time, especially when she narrowly escapes being raped, flees in a carriage to the safety of her beloved parents' home, but is coaxed back by a heartfelt letter from her would-be rapist saying that, well, he's changed. Back to the manor we go, then.
Fielding disliked "Pamela" with a vengeance, and his "Shamela" capitalizes on the flaws of Pamela, painting the virtuous girl as an uneducated grasping shrew who manipulates the men around her, or more accurately manipulates their lusts. The satire is biting, hilarious, and can easily be appreciated for its cleverness, if not for its motives.
~ Ana Mardoll
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