Charles Petzold

My Week with Clarissa: The Full Title

July 15, 2007, 10:50 AM
Roscoe, N.Y.

Books in the 18th century didn't have back-cover descriptions or dust jackets, so the titles helped to convey the subject of the book. Here's the complete title of Clarissa in an image of the title page from Wikipedia's entry on the novel:

Notice that the author is anonymous and identified only as the same "editor" as Pamela. In accordance with the conventions of the epistolary novel, the "editor" is the person who brings together and edits the "real" letters. Richardson's name appears further down on the page.

Also notice that the title offers not a mindless diversion but seems to imply a promise of actual edification to both parents and children regarding the subject of marriage.

This morning, from the hours of 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM, I read Richardson's Preface and Letters 1 through 10, rather confirming to me that my reading pace (at least initially) will be about 200 words per minute, three minutes per page, and 20 pages per hour.

Deirdre and I then did our normal summer Sunday-morning walk to the Famous Roscoe Diner for breakfast, and then to the Farmer's Market and the grocery store to pick up the Sunday NY Times. In about 3 minutes, at 11:00 AM, I commence reading with Letter 11.