How is that I'm actually ahead in my Clarissa reading??? I've somehow ended up in the middle of August! Clarissa has been my lunchtime book, and I've outlawed other books on my Nook until it's complete. And, I've been reading more at lunch lately because my office is freezing and I need to get out a little to thaw out, even though it's been more than 100 degrees outside here in Oklahoma. The readalong will continue through the year, but I'm hoping to finish up the reading this month because I'm sooooooooo tired of this book!
It really really bugs me when I don't like a classic. It makes me feel like I'm missing something. It rarely happens. Sometimes, like with James Joyce, I just discovered the book too soon and needed to mature before appreciating it. Sometimes, I may not like the book that much, but can see why it's a classic. Thomas Hardy sort of fits that category. He just doesn't quite do it for me, but I don't dislike his works or think they shouldn't be considered classics. Really, I'd say I do like him overall, there's just something in his writing style that seems off to me - his sentence structure can be awkward and it's like he starts to slip into poetry but then remember he's writing a novel mid-sentence. Anyway, despite that, I appreciate him. I'll read more of his works. Richardson though? I just don't get it.
It's never a good sign when a writer has something terrible happen to the protagonist and the reader thinks "Oh thank God! Finally! Maybe now things will pick up in this insufferable story!" But no. Richardson does good for a few letters and then....boredom. Repetition. People, this should be a riveting story! I think this is the first time this issue is discussed in literature! It should be a big deal! This was why I've stuck with this, because I knew this was coming and wanted to see how it was handled. It is not worth it.
I believe there's a reason why Richardson has fallen out of favor in academic study. He's mainly taught as a juxtaposition to Henry Fielding. This would be my recommendation if you want to read Richardson. Read Pamela, then read Fielding's Joseph Andrews and Shamela. Reading Pamela will help you better understand the humor in these two works by Fielding, which mock Pamela. They are hilarious. And awesome. And so worth the time. Pamela is much better and easier to get through than Clarissa, although I do think the main story in Clarissa is more powerful (I just wish it was handled by someone who could actually write/had a fantastic editor!!!). Pamela is basically Clarissa if Clarissa's family had less money and was a lower class and what happens when a virtuous servant tries to resist her master. Clarissa is sadly more realistic than Pamela, but Pamela takes less than half the pages to tell the story so it still wins. :) If you read Pamela and actually love it, then you might give Clarissa a try, but otherwise I would focus on the 101839461 other awesome classics out there instead!
But don't just take my word for it. Check out these other reviews by other bloggers participating in the Clarissa readalong.