The Importance of Reading the Third Edition whenever feasible

Very early in the year's discussion, on January 29th to be precise, in response to a number of postings asking which edition one ought to read, and why, Michael Newman posted the following commentary:

From: Michael Newman

Subject: More than you want to know about the text

A few years ago, I wrote a paper on the subject of the importance of reading the third edition whenever feasible. Throughout the third edition, and in the "Table of Sentiments" attached to all editions subsequent to the second, there are numerous instances of Richardson's attempting to dictate his readers' response to the events and characters in the novel. Significantly, Richardson makes absolutely no attempt to hide his manipulations of the text. The many letters "restored" to the third edition--a total of over two hundred additional pages--are carefully delineated in the text by typographical marks. If you really want to know more, read on, or I'll send out my entire 22-page essay.

In "Revisions in the Published Texts of Volume One of Samuel Richardson's Clarissa" (The Library Chronicle 45 (1981): 92-103) William Warde studied the textual changes between the first and third editions in Volume I alone and documents "about fifteen obvious instances of improving or clarifying Clarissa's character and consequent motivation, one instance of improving Hickman's character, and two each of darkening Arabella's and Lovelace's; the dramatic quality is improved in at least a dozen places" (96). Likewise, he found a sentence which was deleted from editions subsequent to the first, "a sentence which might be construed [by inattentive readers, no doubt] to indicate a conscious preference by Clarissa for Lovelace: 'And is it such a crime in me, if I should prefer an acquaintance of Twelve months to one of Two?" (97). But perhaps most interesting are the changes Richardson made in his terms of address. Between the first and second editions "he is careful to have his characters refer to parents in more connotatively objective and socially proper forms and to avoid fond, personal forms. He changes 'mamma' to 'Mother' one hundred and eighty-six times and 'papa' to 'Father' one hundred and thirty-nine times" in the first volume alone (94), serving to divest these characters of a great deal of their referentiality, leaving them open to more complex manipulation by the author. That is, a reader would be expected to harbor myriad idiosyncratic responses to "mamma" or "papa." However, using "connotatively objective" terms of address allows the author to achieve a level of characterization closer to zero-degree for these characters, giving him more freedom to shape reader response as he sees fit. Overall, the changes that Warde tracks have "a tendency to elevate the style and to make the novel more 'correct'" (95).

Florian Stuber's introduction to the AMS edition, which is a facsimile of the 1751 third edition, discusses some of this, and her article "On Original and Final Intentions, or Can There Be an Authoritative Clarissa?" (TEXT: Transactions of the Society for Textual Scholarship 2 (1985): 229-244) does the same.

Sorry about the length, but anyone who's tried surely knows how difficult it is to abstract one's own work.

Mike Newman

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