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«Clarissa» 's Narrators


Victor J. Lams

Challenging the view that Samuel Richardson's eighteenth-century epistolary novel Clarissa is a shapeless sequence of letters, this book argues that the novel has an action structure consisting of five act-like movements that emerge from the round robin transfer of narrative dominance: from the interiorizing drama enacted on the epistolary stage first by Clarissa’s, then by Lovelace’s self-reflections on just-past events, to Belford’s more conventionally novelistic other-reflective narrative that ends the history. This book contrasts Clarissa’s use of soliloquy to achieve self-understanding with Lovelace’s employment of dramatic monologue to enable self-deception. Finally, Miss Howe’s and Belford’s performances in epistolary friendship are evaluated.