Charles Petzold

My Week with Clarissa: Day Seven

July 21, 2007
Roscoe, N.Y.

How totally out of step I feel! On a day when the rest of the literate world is reading the 7th (and final) volume about wizards and magic, I'm reading the 7th (and final) volume of a 250-year-old novel full of muggles and plain old real-life terrors — Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, commonly regarded as "the longest novel in the English language not written by L. Ron Hubbard."

In finishing the novel today, I discovered that my reading speed still hovered around 200 words per minute, and so the final volume required about 14 hours of reading, which began at 8:00 AM this morning and pretty much dominated the day.

In previous installments of this series of blog entries, I've provided some plot synopses, but I will not do so today. I suppose you'll just have to read Clarissa for yourself! It is an extraordinary novel in more ways than one — an emotional and psychological powerhouse, and a fascinating examination of early 18th century English society and mores with vivid detailed characterizations.

I want to thank Deirdre for her help in allowing me to read Clarissa in seven days. She made sure I had food to eat and that I didn't spend too much time eating it, and she graciously let me skip some of my customary chores.

Tomorrow I'll blog a bit more about Clarissa but on Monday, my virtual vacation in 18th century England is over, and it's back to work for me.