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Abstract

A formal approach to the history of the novel is illuminative when form itself becomes a marker of virtue, a term at the heart of the so-called "Pamela controversy," whose respondents doubt the virtue of Pamela's accounts. Analyzing the ways in which Samuel Richardson uses the formal components of the account in Pamela helps us to understand just what is at stake in the Pamela controversy. The changes Richardson makes in Clarissa, including proliferating points of view in order to help the reader to trust Clarissa's account and also showing by external means that Clarissa holds herself accountable to her account, reveal a necessary fictional supplement to accounting. This technique resembles strategies that the Bank of England uses, such as its architectural layout, to help the public trust the soundness of its own accounting mechanisms. In this way, formal analysis of Pamela and Clarissa reveals an important link between the rise of public credit and the rise of the novel.

Contributor's Note

Natalie Roxburgh, whose dissertation is titled "The Rise of Public Credit and the Eighteenth-Century English Novel," completed her PhD in English literature at Rutgers University in 2011. She currently teaches at Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Germany.

Fig1Ledger.jpg (649 kB)
Fig. 1 Bank of England, 1694 ledger page.

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