This is the Diary of a penitent Sinner. We know she was Penitent because she tells Us repeatedly, despite the fact that she continues to Sin with a ReThis is the Diary of a penitent Sinner. We know she was Penitent because she tells Us repeatedly, despite the fact that she continues to Sin with a Reckless abandonment that should be Enjoyable but is not, Really. She essentially Runs around London prostituting herself for Around forty years, and stealing from people, insisting that she feels Bad while showing no evidence of feeling so. There is some Enjoyment to be had in its depiction of the completely Unstoppable "Mrs. Flanders" (not her Real name and, no, Mara Dyer fans, you don't find out what her real Name is, either). Nothing puts a dent in this Woman, whether it's being Seduced, stolen from, forced into marriage, Impregnated, bankrupted, Arrested, caught out in her various misbehaviours. I'm making this sound fun - it's not Fun. It's written Like This, for one, and there are also no paragraph breaks. Or very few. You will wonder if Daniel Defoe's Caps Lock AND his space bar were both Broken, and his creativity and source of literary talent. It's just dull. Somehow a story of a woman who Spends her whole life Cheating people, being cheated, and Spectacularly worming her way out of every single Nightmare that befalls her with a steely determination and only occasional Fainting fits can be dull. I don't understand it Either....more
Frankly, for how often people in this novel write this, the reader themselves may find themselves staring at the 1,400+ tigh4.5 stars
"I cannot go on."
Frankly, for how often people in this novel write this, the reader themselves may find themselves staring at the 1,400+ tightly-packed remaining pages in horror, and thinking, if only you bloody hadn't.
No, I did not read it all. I think my abridgement probably totalled over 1,00 pages though, which, in three days, is not bad. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this once I started. It's a surprisingly modern novel in many ways; though Clarissa may be a perfect, luminous "angel" - aren't many of the eighteenth-century heroines? - Richardson spares no blushes in his totalling of Clarissa's treatment and the novel was bizarrely addictive. It's thrilling in places, Clarissa is no passive fool, and the dialogue sparkles between Clarissa and her best friend, Anna, and particularly Clarissa and the horrible Lovelace, a preening, self-indulgent, narcissistic villain of whom writers of twenty-first century psychological thrillers would be proud. It really does feel like a pioneering classic in places, stretching its use of form and Richardson's talents.
Until it pushes its conceit too far. After the immediate fallout from Lovelace's sexual assault of Clarissa, the novel just seems to run out of steam, a sad thing given that there were still at least 500 pages to go. I read an abridgement of the Penguin edition that my supervisor recommended and, despite missing out chunks of the text, when Belford repented his actions and Clarissa levelled up so completely in sainthood that one could be forgiven for expecting her to suddenly grow wings at any moment, it seemed like I had missed absolutely nothing. (Unlike earlier in the text, where I could tell that I was missing nuances of the plot by skipping letters.)
Nevertheless, I'm giving this one 4 stars because...it's the classic, okay? I enjoyed this one a lot more - and read it a hell of a lot faster - than Richardson's other novel, Pamela, despite the fact that Pamela is about 1/3 of the length (still no mean feat - you will wonder if anybody in the eighteenth century experienced hand cramp.) In many ways, they could almost be two different variants on the same story, both featuring a virtuous young woman being pursued by a rakish and seemingly unreliable potential lover. However, while Pamela is stilted, dry, dull, and slow, Clarissa is dark, mesmerising, and fluent in its sustained skill. Its main dark topic - rape - is handled with a sensitivity, comprehension, and quiet devastation that many modern authors could learn from. Am I really giving 4 stars to a book for it not being Pamela? Yes. Yes, I am....more
I am not the person to talk to about this book. It's...okay? Blah. It's not flowery or pretentious - it just is what it is: a book of short, often sweI am not the person to talk to about this book. It's...okay? Blah. It's not flowery or pretentious - it just is what it is: a book of short, often sweet stories about the different (but not all that different) lives of people in Dublin. I think my good rating might have more to do with the fact that I am insanely loaded down with work this week, and I kept looking at Joyce and thinking "uuuuugh" when I thought about reading it, because I thought it would inevitably turn out like "In Memoriam" last week - something I had no time to read and therefore had to half-read, while frantically flipping through the poem and trying to squeeze an essay out of it. But no. I sat down and read it all. Quick, riveting and pretty enjoyable. Though I can't tell if my relief is because, thank you God, it's over and I didn't have to kill myself to read it. ...more
"Count no man happy 'til he dies, free of pain at last."
Oedipus the King is sad but brutal, a very dark but moving tale that we think we all4.5 stars
"Count no man happy 'til he dies, free of pain at last."
Oedipus the King is sad but brutal, a very dark but moving tale that we think we all know -- but actually reading it, especially the raw emotion that is encapsulated in those last few pages, is crushing. This is the true definition of Greek tragedy, so any criticism I could heap on it seems very twenty-first century and almost inapplicable. However, I did take a star off because it measures my personal enjoyment -- the latter half of the play, from when the messenger emerges to say that Oedipus has blinded himself, is pure five-star material, a hammer to the heart.
Until then, Oedipus is a bit of a total assshole. I don't mean in his determination for the truth, or even his ignorance about the revelation - seriously, if you thought your real parents were hundreds of miles away, would it be easy for you to acknowledge the concept that you could have run away and still somehow wound up married to your mother? I've read critical essays about Oedipus, and I'm not trying to say he had a 'fatal flaw' or anything, because he wasn't that insufferable with it all, but if there was a key problem with Oedipus the King, I felt that it was just too short. I didn't get enough of a rounded picture and I wanted more of Jocasta and Oedipus's marriage for the eventual revelation to have absolute resonance. Still, excellent, and it's not hard to see why it's a classic of Greek tragedy....more