literature / OTTW

OTTW: Clarissa (or, distance to the men-wretches!)

Aka the biggest novel of all time, written in 1747. Page count: 1500. Not a joke.

From Clarissa’s best friend Anna, comparing C’s (admittedly lose-lose) marriage prospects:

Lovelace entertained the company in his lively gay way, and made everyone laugh at one of his stories. It was before this creature was thought of for you. Solmes laughed too. It was, however, his laugh; for the first three years, at least, I imagine, must have been one continual fit of crying; and his muscles have never yet been able to recover a risible tone…I was glad, I remember, on that particular occasion, to see his strange features recovering their natural gloominess, though they did this but slowly, as if the muscles which contributed to his distortions had turned upon rusty springs. …distance to the men-wretches is best, I say. (129-132)



The cover image from my edition (Penguin Classics 1985) is fantastic. It’s a detail from the painting “The Harlowe family” by Joseph Highmore. I assume that’s Clarissa’s terrible sister Arabella telling her prettier sibling to step off, because we own you, Clare-bear.


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