Closing the Circle: Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison
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It has become a commonplace in Richardson criticism to comment on the extent to which he solicited advice about his work from readers, as well as the rarity with which he took it. Richardson’s vast correspondence, preserved and organised as carefully as any of his novels, traces a negotiation of authority taking place over the course of his career, and serving as a contrast and response to the publishing challenges described in the previous chapter. In these letters, the public reception of his novels is transformed into a private conversation: although the men and women who wrote to him often began as strangers, Richardson cultivated these relationships by drawing them into debate, effectively creating a new kind of manuscript coterie surrounding his novels. This established a personal rapport between author and audience, counteracting the anonymity of the marketplace that had proved so dangerous to Pamela, and allowing him greater control over these readers’ interpretations and the texts that they produced.
KeywordsVirtual Community Alternative Ending Happy Ending Reader Response Moral Feeling
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