Thursday, September 29, 2005

In Preparation

In preparing to begin reading Clarissa, I searched through my shelves for something about the book. The only thing I could find was a short discussion of only a few pages in Cassell's History of English Literature. (My personal lack of information was a bit disappointing. Even so, I will not be purchasing this any time soon.) The discussion of Clarissa is included in a chapter called "Richardson and Fielding: Tragic Pastoral and Comic Epic." In it the author of Cassell's, Peter Conrad, declares the novel to be "about a vocational martyrdom to literature," and that Clarissa "must choose between living and writing." It is also a battle between the drama represented by Lovelace, and the novel represented by Clarissa. Even though Clarissa dies in the end, she still wins out because she has stayed true to the form of the novel throughout, proving that the drama is the weaker literature. Well okay then. Conrad mentions Johnson's comment on the novel, "Johnson indeed made one of the shrewdest comments on Richardson's novel when he said that the man who read Clarissa for the story would end by hanging himself." Is there a hanging in my future? Or, because I am not a man, will I escape that fate? Personally, I think I am in more danger of being crushed to death by the weight of the book. I'm going to pull out the old saw, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Obviously I'm on the side of coming out of the reading stronger. But since I haven't been lifting Don Quixote for a couple of weeks my muscles are starting to go slack. I plan on some preliminary warm-up lifting tomorrow before digging in on Saturday. I've decided to forego a more traditional weightlifting method and attempt to sumo wrestle it to the sofa after much stomping and grunting around my living room in preparation. I won't be wearing the little thong thingy though. The weather has turned much cooler here and I need the fuller coverage of a blanket.