You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.


Log in through your institution.

Styles of Meaning and Meanings of Style in Richardson's Clarissa

Styles of Meaning and Meanings of Style in Richardson's Clarissa

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 224
Stable URL:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Styles of Meaning and Meanings of Style in Richardson's Clarissa
    Book Description:

    Using socially and culturally engaged discourse stylistics, Fulton explores ideologies of social formation, gender, and sexuality in the novel. The first part of the study, "Styles of Meaning," discusses Richardson's use of the genres of sententiousness (moral sentiments and proverbs) to engage questions of ideology. Fulton shows how Richardson draws on the socially significant difference between proverbs and maxims to develop contrasting styles in which his characters establish and defend personal identities in relation to family and friends. The second part, "Meanings of Style," explores ways in which meanings created through linguistic choices in the critical domains of gender and sexuality both sustain and sometimes betray characters struggling either to control or to resist being controlled by others.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6784-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments (pp. vii-x)
  4. A Note on the Text (pp. xi-2)
  5. 1 Introduction: A Stylistic Approach to Clarissa (pp. 3-30)

    What should be studied as “style” in Clarissa? According to an anonymous “Lover of Virtue” writing in 1754, nothing: “Generally speaking, an odd affected expression is observable through the whole, particularly in the epistles of Bob Lovelace.”¹ All Richardson’s novels, this critic believes, will accelerate a decline in the English language underway for some time, since there is great danger that Richardson’s neologisms might be adopted in conversation, imitated by other writers, and in time recorded in a dictionary.² By “style” this critic means the sum of choices made in using language; he believes it should be regulated according to...

    • 2 Proverbs and the Language of Control (pp. 33-51)

      In asking what problems of ideology Richardson addresses inClarissaand undertaking a stylistic study to interpret his engagement with them, we explore the means he used to create distinct styles for characters and the sometimes contradictory achievements of this work. But as we relate important patterns in the novel’s language to significant aspects of its social context, we pose the questions and propose answers in somewhat different terms from those Richardson himself would have understood. For Richardson, a novel’s ideological work was twofold. By encouraging readers to critique existing ideologies, it worked to expose the assumptions, both acknowledged and...

    • 3 The Moral Sentiment as a Dialogic Style of Meaning (pp. 52-80)

      If the failure of proverbs as an interactive strategy suggests howClarissacan be related to a long-term transition from public to private orientation in life and literature and to a growing ideology of individualism, so too can non-proverbial generalization, the style of meaning whose generic form Richardson refers to variously as the moral or instructive sentiment, aphorism, maxim, caution, observation, and reflection.¹ The previous chapter has shown that whenClarissawas published these forms had replaced the proverb as the socially prestigious style for stating general truths and putting them to work in discourse, so it is not surprising...

    • 4 Surprised by Style: Lovelace, Clarissa, and Language for Love (pp. 83-111)

      The first section of this study, “Styles of Meaning,” has discussed Richardson’s use of proverbs and moral sentiments as contrasting genres of generalization, as implicit and explicit modes in which characters seek to influence and control one another, to understand and to justify themselves to the world. The generalizations inClarissarange widely in tone, from sincere piety to demonic irony; by repeatedly choosing the moral sentiment as their preferred mode of generalization, Clarissa and Lovelace symbolize their rejection of communities and shared understandings which have failed them, or which they spurn. As a style of meaning, their moral sentiments...

    • 5 Why Look at Clarissa? Physical Description and Richardson’s Revision of Libertine Style (pp. 112-139)

      “Methinks I can’t bear to be look’d upon by these Men-servants; for they seem as if they would look one thro.”¹ So writes Pamela of an early, unwanted sexual advance by her fellow servant, Harry, as she voices what is for many female characters in Richardson’s novels a home truth. Kristina Straub has argued ofPamelathat, in order to reeducate male readers, Richardson deconstructs this gaze and reconstructs it.² Incidents in which men look at women are important inClarissaalso, and there, as one part of Richardson’s more complex development of epistolary form, sharply contrasting male descriptions of...

    • 6 Sentimental Libertinism: Richardson’s Reform of Libertine Desire (pp. 140-174)

      In giving Harriet Byron’s “fancy” a decisive role in her rejection of Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, Richardson participates in a widespread pattern which has been studied from various perspectives. For many years, concepts of “sentimentalism” and “sensibility” have organized this discussion; as scholars have focused more pointedly on gender issues, they have added the concept of “feminization.” By contrast with sentimentalism and sensibility (which are considered to have arisen from developments underway from the late seventeenth century but to be most significant from the mid-eighteenth century), feminization is evident earlier, by the first decade of the eighteenth century. It has also...

  8. Notes (pp. 175-228)
  9. Bibliography (pp. 229-244)
  10. Index (pp. 245-250)