Samuel Richardson's Clarissa is a heartbreaking and compulsive piece of epistolary storytelling and one of the world's greatest novels. Published in 1747, it was the precursor to and inspiration for many of the great European novels which followed in its wake.
Spoilers: The young and beautiful Clarissa is courted by the rake Lovelace, who tricks her into his power, carries her off to London, and rapes her. Clarissa then falls into decline. Lovelace becomes involved in an avenging duel with Clarissa's cousin, and Clarissa's family and friends must live with the guilt and shame of their own neglect and betrayal of her.
Scroll down to 'Clips' to download all episodes
From the Catherine Bailey Limited website:
Writer Hattie Naylor says, “To me, Lovelace’s relentless and calculating pursuit of Clarissa as a possession, is utterly contemporary. Most of us know a Lovelace. He remains as irresistible and dangerous as ever. This is a very modern tale of vengeance and love.”
“The first book in the world for the knowledge it displays of the human heart,” Samuel Johnson
This drama is part of Radio 4's 'Classic Serial' programmes, defined as 'Adaptations of works which have achieved classic status'. More information is here on the Classic Serial webpage.
In the first part, The Pursuit, beautiful young heiress Clarissa Harlowe is dangerously attracted by the wiles of the notorious libertine Robert Lovelace. Threatened by an imminent marriage arranged with the odious suitor her family have found for her, Lovelace persuades Clarissa to flee with him.
In the second episode, entitled The Flight, Clarissa has been persuaded to flee with the notorious libertine Lovelace, escaping an arranged marriage. In London she begins to learn of the darker side of Lovelace's character as he secures her lodgings in a house of ill repute and begins to use lies, trickery and cruel delusions in an attempt to seduce her.
The third episode, Imprisonment, sees Lovelace trick Clarissa into returning to Mrs Sinclair's house of ill repute, and after she has been drugged, he has his way with her.
The fourth episode is entitled Freedom Regained, in which Clarissa hopes for reconciliation with her family, while an unrepentant Lovelace seeks once again to find her and conquer her soul.
This production has been serialised into four episodes lasting an hour each. It started on Sunday 14 March from 3.00 - 4.00pm and the final part aired on Sunday 4 April. Each episode was repeated the following Saturday from 9.00 - 10.00pm.
The Radio Times 13-19 March 2010 has chosen Clarissa as one of 'Today's Choices' for Sunday 14 March. They also had a small header on another page with a picture of Richard as John Thornton. Click the scans below to enlarge.
The Daily Mail Weekend magazine 13 March 2010 had this small scan promoting Clarissa (click to enlarge)