Pamela : Or Virtue Rewarded, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (4 ratings)


'Pamela under the Notion of being a Virtuous Modest Girl will be introduced into all Familes,and when she gets there, what Scenes does she represent? Why a fine young Gentleman endeavouring to debauch a beautiful young Girl of Sixteen.' (Pamela Censured, 1741) One of the most spectacular successes of the burgeoning literary marketplace of eighteeent-century London, Pamela also marked a defining moment in the emergence of the modern novel. In the words of one contemporary, it divided the world 'into two different Parties, Pamelists and Antipamelists', even eclipsing the sensational factional politics of the day. Preached up for its morality, and denounced as pornography in disguise, it vividly describes a young servant's long resistance to the attempts of her predatory master to seduce her. Written in the voice of its low-born heroine, but by a printer who fifteen years earlier had narrowly escaped imprisonment for the seditious output of his press, Pamela is not only a work of pioneering psychological complexity, but also a compelling and provocative study of power and its abuse. Based on the original text of 1740, from which Richardson later retreated in a series of defensive revisions, this edition makes available the version of Pamela that aroused such widespread controversy on its first appearance.

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780199536498

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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

Pamela MUST be read with an eye on the historical context of the novel. It has no appeal to the modern reader aside from the comical and farcical ways in which Pamela and her master dance around one another. The plot is paper thin yet the book is the size of Yellow Pages. What is Richardson trying to tell the readers? The answer is evident in the subtitle "Virtue Rewarded". Again, context and history is everything to this book. The character of Pamela infuriated me at times but in the end I just had to laugh. I'm inclined to think Richardson knew exactly what he was doing.

Review by

Was a bit nervous about starting this book cause I've heard of its reputation for being very long. But I'm glad I did because it surprisingly kept my attention. My library has it in two seperate volumes, and I finished all of the first one...normally I get bored with books like this and don't even get much past the first 50 pages. But I enjoyed this one very much! I don't know if it's because it was written from a woman's perspective or what but I liked it! I just wish 15 year old girls valued their virtue just as fiercely today as they did in the 1740's....

Review by

I read this book because it was a bestseller after it was published in 1740. I read it because it was the first novel of its kind. As a romance writer, I was curious about it. As a writer of historicals, I wanted to study the style of the language of that time. I can't say it was easy to read. The characters and the plot are too contrived. The hero was such a rat, I had a tough time believing he would ever turn around. Since the story is told through letters Pamela has written to her parents, it is also difficult to believe she had so much time to write everything down, in minute detail, including conversations. Pamela does go through quite an ordeal and her firm moral beliefs and religious faith buoy her up through her hardships.For the book's historical significance, this was an intriguing read, a look backward into time, and for that reason I recommend it.

Review by

If you're into BDSM you're going to love this novel. If your urges don't run that way then you'll probably not 'get' it. I loved it. Richardson re-wrote it three times in an attempt to make it less shocking. It's therefore worthwhile reading the first edition text, which is what the OUP edition contains.I had read Tom Jones and wanted to read Shamela & Joseph Andrews too but realising they depended on this, obtained a copy. If I’m honest I expected nothing more from this book than historical interest but what I got was an intellectual and emotional rollercoaster ride.I began reading in a state of extreme cynicism. How much of what Pamela writes should I believe? Who tells their parents the truth, after all? I later concluded you were by and large expected to believe her, but she doesn’t always tell you everything. I was also cynical of Richardson’s motives in writing the book. His manipulation of the press and later revisions to suit the taste of the public; these made me wonder if he was simply trying to make money. My opinion on this also changed as I realised he’s writing about matters that really do concern him.Everything in Pamela comes in pairs: good and evil; predator and prey; man and woman; straight and gay; master and slave. So I conceived a great respect for the book. Then I found myself horrified by the treatment Pamela is subjected to. Mr B’s really quite evil and those scenes where he bullies her are very well done.Now, I don’t want to give away to much, but if you’ve read the introduction at the front of this volume then you’ve already been helpfully informed of the entire plot...At the beginning Pamela can leave at any time. Later she uses the unfinished waistcoat as an excuse the stay. Then she pretends two cows are bulls so she cannot escape across the field. Finally she is presented with the opportunity of suicide and again she declines escape. I think it’s important to realise that Pamela is a willing slave. This is a relationship between two consenting adults. Is this the first English novel? Maybe. Is it the first BDSM novel? Certainly. The sequence concludes with Mr B granting Pamela her freedom and she returns of her own will. As soon as Mr B can be sure she is doing this willingly and she has shown her submission and faithfulness by enduring anything her master wishes to subject her to, she is rewarded by nice behaviour from him. Fantastic stuff. I am a Pamelist!Interestingly the introduction appears to consider the waistcoat in particular to be a flaw. Keymer has entirely misunderstood what’s going on. Maybe he's not into being chained up and whipped. I have to say though that the introduction does notice things that I had missed. I think this is perhaps one of the reasons why this is a Great Novel: it can be read in more than one way.

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