Pamela, Or Virtue Rewarded (Publisher's Note, page 1 of 1)


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Samuel Richardson, the first, in order of time, of the great English
novelists, was born in 1689 and died at London in 1761. He was a printer
by trade, and rose to be master of the Stationers' Company. That he also
became a novelist was due to his skill as a letter-writer, which brought
him, in his fiftieth year, a commission to write a volume of model
"familiar letters" as an aid to persons too illiterate to compose
their own. The notion of connecting these letters by a story which
had interested him suggested the plot of "Pamela" and determined its
epistolary form--a form which was retained in his later works.

This novel (published 1740) created an epoch in the history of English
fiction, and, with its successors, exerted a wide influence upon
Continental literature. It is appropriately included in a series which
is designed to form a group of studies of English life by the masters
of English fiction. For it marked the transition from the novel of
adventure to the novel of character--from the narration of entertaining
events to the study of men and of manners, of motives and of sentiments.
In it the romantic interest of the story (which is of the slightest) is
subordinated to the moral interest in the conduct of its characters in
the various situations in which they are placed. Upon this aspect of the
"drama of human life" Richardson cast a most observant, if not always
a penetrating glance. His works are an almost microscopically detailed
picture of English domestic life in the early part of the eighteenth
century.

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