Sunday, October 09, 2005

Clarissa Update

I've been reading Clarissa for a week now and have managed to get through ten letters which amounts to 32 pages. Only 1,467 to go! At the moment Lovelace doesn't seem like a bad guy. He has a reputation but at this point it is all hearsay. The bad guys are Clarissa's older sister Isabella and her older brother James. Isabella does not like Lovelaces' attentions to Clarissa because he first gave them to her. He even proposed to Isabella, but she played coy and refused him thinking he would ask her again. Lovelace at that point had not met Clarissa. When he met her it quickly became clear to Isabella that Lovelace would not ask her to marry him again. Now Isabella is pissed off and trying very hard to make Clarissa's life a living hell. Then we have brother James who knew Lovelace at University and doesn't like him because he is more well liked. James also thinks more highly of himself than he deserves and Lovelace makes fun of him for it. James uses Lovelace's reputation as an excuse to hide a deep hatred of a man who had never done anything to him except after James challenged him. Swords were drawn, Lovelace disarmed James and wounded him lightly when he could have killed him. But now James hates him even more and has become a tyrant in the Harlowe household. He blames Clarissa for his own faults and takes his anger out on her. It's all so very melodramatic and fun. The reading is slow because the print is small and the use of language is different enough that attention must be paid continually. No drifting off for a page or two and then picking the story back up, a detail that has consequences might be missed. There is one turn of phrase that caught my attention last night that I really liked. Clarissa is writing to her friend Miss Howe and saying some not very nice things about her sister and comes out with this, "yet how can one be such a reptile as not to turn when trampled upon!" I think it's time reptile be brought back as an insult, a mild one to be sure, but useful.