(Picture from google images)
This week's read has been Pamela or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson, in preparation for next week's lecture. The novel, narrated through a series of letters, tells of a virtuous young waiting maid's resistance to the unlawful seductions of her master. It was first published in 1740 and 'marked a defining moment in the emergence of the modern novel' (in the words of Oxford World's Classics). It was 'preached for its morality, and denounced as pornography in disguise'.
Mr B is very forceful with his advances, and seems unable to control his attraction for sixteen year old Pamela. He kidnaps her in the hope that in seclusion he will have more success with his 'attempts on' her, and on one occasion, even comes close to raping her; climbing into bed with her in the guise of another maid, her usual bedfellow!
The novel is narrated, mostly, through the correspondence between Pamela and her low-born parents. Recognition that loss of virtue is consequentially worse than death, drives her to defend her innocence in desperation. But even when her virtue is rewarded, she still has further trials to contend with...
I was quite shocked by the content of the novel. It's hardly surprising that it caused a stir when it was first published, because for a novel of its time it is quite explicit.