The Novel Set in a Leapyear & Letters As Working Units

Richardon really does seem to be working letter by letter. Each letter is one thread which he weaves into his discourse, and there may be threads wound around threads. He is not so much writing real letters as writing chapters of a book by different first-person narrators, and in each there is a central focus of action or revelation of psychology which enables him to shape his narrative. I also suggest we have another bit of evidence for the theory that the novel takes place in a leapyear. For example, the next two letters focus on Clary and her brother. Let XII, Sun, 3/5: Clary delivered over to brother. Inset letter of Clary to brother. The reference to 2 Sundays in a row in which Clary has missed church would seem to confirm this is indeed a leapyear. Let XIII, Mon, 3/6: Hannah dismissed, further isolation of Clary, under power of her brother. Inset letter of brother in response to Clary. Also, we are beginning to get letter within letters. The man (meaning Richardson) is just flowing with letters. 3/5: Lovelace's letters quoted; Clary's distrustful interpretation, the reader though can interpret Lovelace more generously than Clary; for example, he is trying to set up a conventional marriage negotiation in which his offer is superior to Solmes. To the reader who has not seen Clary's letters Lovelace's desire to meet her in the garden, "attended by whom I please," might well have been a natural response to Clary's letters. There is also an interlace and mirroring of Hannah & Clary, the contrast of Betty & Clary; this modern reader Clary has unexpectedly unidealistic response to Hannah's "love" for her: "We are all apt, you know, my dear, to praise our benefactors because they _are_ our benefactors." Clary knows she lives in a hard word, and shows she knows the limits of servants' loyalties. She's sharp and has chosen not to be ambitious, and then she gives her servant 10 guineas when she owed her only 4 pounds; the likeness to Lovelace's treatment of the servants is clear.

Ellen Moody,
now caught up

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