Alex's Reviews > Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded

Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson
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Jan 23, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: 2011, favorite-reviews, reading-through-history, unreliable-narrators, rth-lifetime
Read from January 22 to 25, 2011

When I read classics, it's not all about just reading them. I'm also trying to discover what's made them classics. I want to know why people like them so much. And I can usually figure something out; that's why I end up with so many five star reviews. But this? This piece of shit escapes me.

The first half is entertaining enough, as the vaguely-named Mr. B---- kidnaps a servant and tries to steal her titular virtue. There are dastardly schemes and narrow escapes. He dresses up like a woman in order to sneak into her bedroom and try to rape her. He makes a good villain, as does the vile Mrs. Jewkes, his accomplice.

Around halfway through, as plots and threats have failed to pierce Pamela's iron hymen, he changes his strategy: the carrot instead of the stick, so to speak. And Richardson has laid enough clues to make us suspect the wolf can't change his ways, so there's some suspense as we wait to see what new depths he's sunk to, and whether Pamela will escape with her virtue intact. (Not that the title leaves us much in doubt.) But then...

(view spoiler) the bigger problem is how fucking tedious it is.

Don't misunderstand me here: nothing else happens. Nothing. That's it, on and on, for hundreds of awful pages. There are parts of Atlas Shrugged that are better than the latter half of this book. It sucks so hard, man. I'm so sad that I read it.

Pamela was important in its time; its characterization and use of the epistolary was groundbreaking, and it influenced great authors like Jane Austen. But it was and is also super shitty, so you don't have to read it unless you're into the history of literature - which is different from being into good literature. If you're not an academic, you don't need this in your life.

Do not read this book.
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Reading Progress

05/16/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-25 of 25) (25 new)

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message 1: by Ruby (new)

Ruby Hollyberry I recall that the Professor in The Haunting of Hill House has Pamela, among others, in his room for the purpose of inducing sleep, if he has any trouble. :)


message 2: by Alex (new) - rated it 1 star

Alex Ha! I'm about a third of the way through, and I actually like it better than I thought I would. Pamela's a pretty good character: a heroine not only for women's rights, but for literature. She goes through almost as much trouble to save her secret pen-and-paper stash as she does for her virginity.


message 3: by Ruby (new)

Ruby Hollyberry hahahaha! That does sound fun. Possibly Shirley Jackson is rolling her eyes...


message 4: by Alasse (new)

Alasse But it's over! Yay!!


message 5: by Alex (new) - rated it 1 star

Alex Hey Ruby: about what I said about liking it better than I thought I would? Never mind.

I wish there were a way I could drink so much I could retroactively black out the last day or so, so I could forget having read this terrible, terrible book.


message 6: by Alex (new) - rated it 1 star

Alex Do roofies do that? Does anyone know where I can get roofies?


message 7: by Ruby (new)

Ruby Hollyberry There are a few books I wish I could reach into my skull with tweezers and remove. Imajica comes to mind.


message 8: by Madeline (new)

Madeline Hmm I think roofies might only succeed in blacking out today... You might forget you finished the book and read the second half again. hehe


message 9: by Alex (new) - rated it 1 star

Alex Ha! The worst of all possible worlds.


message 10: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Ruby wrote: "I recall that the Professor in The Haunting of Hill House has Pamela, among others, in his room for the purpose of inducing sleep, if he has any trouble. :)"

I'm reading Haunting of Hill House right now and thought I'd come by to mention just this! Too funny!

Here's the quote:
"...at my age, an hour's reading before bedtime is essential, and I wisely brought Pamela with me. If any of you has trouble sleeping, I will read aloud to you. I never yet knew anyone who could not fall asleep with Richardson being read aloud to him."


message 11: by Alex (new) - rated it 1 star

Alex Shirley Jackson, you're my hero.


message 12: by Laura (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Clap clap clap clap clap. "Pamela's iron hymen" especially made me laugh. Man, that was a terrible book. just terrible.


Jessica You nailed it my friend. Bravo! This novel is the 18th Century equivalent of Twilight.


Jessica Perfect Review. My Sentiments Exactly.


Arukiyomi spot on mate... spot on


message 16: by Beth (new) - rated it 1 star

Beth Laughed at "iron hymen."
Reading it for a class. Damn, at least "Twilight" is amusing in its horribleness.
(heh, "Atlas Shrugged" is tied with "Sandman" and "The Lord of the Rings" as my favorite book. It's not THAT difficult. Certainly not Pamela levels of dull, aside from perhaps Galt's three year speech near the end)


message 17: by Alex (new) - rated it 1 star

Alex Oh, I don't mean to suggest that Atlas Shrugged is difficult. Excepting that Galt speech, which to my knowledge no one - probably including Rand - has ever bothered to read anyway, it's not difficult. It's just bad.

(Sorry to dis on one of your favorite books. To each her own, even if her own is totally lame.)


Lauren I like your question about classics. It's something I wonder all the time. I wouldn't say that people read this in college because it's a classic. They read it because it gives you a great sense of the time period and its values (awful values by today's standards). It's more of a history lesson than a novel at this point.


message 19: by Alex (new) - rated it 1 star

Alex Fair enough - and much as I hate this book, I find myself citing it fairly often. Like, its influence on Jane Austen is pretty clear; I feel like it enhances my understanding of Austen to know she liked this.


Lauren I hated it too, believe me. That's a really interesting observation about Austen. I've only read P&P, so I can't make a general opinion about all her books. :)


Danny Don't blame your failure as a reader on Richardson's writing. I'm sure you don't mean harm, but it gets me so upset that your highly dismissive review of Pamela is the first one on this site. It turns people off from the novel. Pamela is a HIGHLY sophisticated novel, but only if you judge it using the right criteria. Samuel Johnson said of Richardson, that "if you were to read Richardson for the story, your impatience would be so much fretted that you would hang yourself. But you must read him for the sentiment, and consider the story as only giving occasion to the sentiment." I'm too annoyed to even write a thorough critique...


message 22: by Alex (new) - rated it 1 star

Alex Sam, the sentiment sucks.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Danny, perhaps you should leave your own review; if enough people like it, it will probably be first in the "default" sorting of reviews. (After one's friends' reviews, of course.)


message 24: by Eric (new)

Eric Norcross I don't quite understand why you found it necessary to end your review with "Do Not Read This Book" - I don't see that as the duty of the reviewer.


message 25: by Alex (new) - rated it 1 star

Alex Wow dude, it is just super fuckin fascinating to hear all about what you think reviews should be like. Please tell me so much more.


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