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A Prehistory of Cognitive PoeticsNeoclassicism and the Novel$
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Karin Kukkonen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190634766

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190634766.001.0001

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The Trials of Clarissa

The Trials of Clarissa

(p.60) Chapter 4 The Trials of Clarissa
A Prehistory of Cognitive Poetics

Karin Kukkonen

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers Samuel Richardson’s novel Clarissa in terms of the aporia of the situational logic of poetic justice. It discusses the manifold revisions that Richardson makes in the first three editions of Clarissa and his engagement with contemporary literary criticism in the prefaces and postscripts. Alternative endings devised by two of Richardson’s correspondents are also considered. Poetic justice in Clarissa is shown to be suspended between the principles of literal poetic justice (dispensed in the fictional world) and liberal poetic justice (dispensed in the afterlife). Richardson takes the principle of poetic justice to its tragic breaking point when Clarissa’s virtue leads to her downfall and Lovelace’s social acuity ensures that he will fail to achieve his happy ending.

Keywords:   poetic justice, tragedy, Samuel Richardson, Clarissa, Restoration drama, publication history

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