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Samuel Richardson: the Author as Correspondent

Curran, LC; (2012) Samuel Richardson: the Author as Correspondent. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis is a broadly chronological study of Samuel Richardson’s correspondence, from his early career as a novelist in the 1740s through to his death in 1761. It argues that Richardson’s sustained concern with the aesthetics and ethics of writing letters was central to his conception of authorship and its relation to publicity. It contends that the form and content of Richardson’s letters interact with his novels in ways that are more pervasive than has been previously acknowledged in Richardson studies; I read letters as an integral part of his literary oeuvre, not merely an adjunct to it. The thesis uses manuscripts of Richardson’s correspondence in archives in both Britain and America, many of which are unpublished. Chapter One examines the development of a familiar epistolary prose style in Richardson’s early works, particularly his first novel Pamela (1740) and its sequel (1741). It focuses on the relationship between aesthetics and ethics in the use of the familiar letter in fiction of this period. Chapter Two is, in part, a case study of Richardson’s letters with his most significant correspondent, Lady Bradshaigh, about Clarissa (1747-8), and links their letters to the development of a quasi-autobiographical mode of writing in his last surviving piece of fiction, ‘The History of Mrs Beaumont’. Chapter Three traces how Richardson used correspondence to encourage and promote women’s writing, both in manuscript and print. Chapter Four examines Richardson’s correspondence with men and his attempt to reformulate literary manliness as a moral virtue in Sir Charles Grandison (1753-4). Chapter Five extends these aesthetic and moral debates to Richardson’s own editing of his correspondence, using manuscript evidence and exchanges he had concerning the ethics of publishing his letters during his lifetime. The Conclusion discusses the implications of these examples for the future study of the author as correspondent.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Samuel Richardson: the Author as Correspondent
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Language and Literature

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