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It has been known for a long time that both the manuscript and printed text of Clarissa were extensively revised by Samuel Richardson, but his changes attracted no serious published attention until recently. In May, 1968 Eaves and Kimpel brought together in one article[1] scattered comments from Richardson's correspondence and private papers to illuminate the thorny problems posed by the revisions he made prior to the first edition, printed in 1748. Since none of the several manuscript drafts has survived, Eaves and Kimpel base their chronology of the pre-publication composition of Clarissa on evidence that is limited in certain respects, but nonetheless significant enough to establish beyond doubt Richardson's enormous concern to improve his novel through constructive advice from others, as well as through meticulous self-criticism.

No study of Richardson's revisions in his published text, comparable in thoroughness to Eaves and Kimpel's handling of the pre-publication problems, has yet appeared. Kinkead-Weekes made a start toward such an undertaking in his stimulating article "Clarissa Restored?"[2] but his prime concern in that study was to examine the more general question of whether Richardson's addenda consist wholly of restorations from earlier versions, or whether newly invented material is also included. Most of his evidence is drawn from two different sources that Richardson left behind about his own revisions: a handwritten memorandum[3] in which he itemized the "most Material" changes he made in the second edition, and a separate volume Letters and Passages


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Restored from the Original Manuscripts of the History of Clarissa, which he offered to the public at the same time as the third edition (1751) "for the Sake of doing Justice to the Purchasers of the Two First Editions." No independent study of Richardson's revisions, based on a collation of all four editions published during the author's lifetime (1748, 1749, 1751, 1759), has yet appeared to check on the completeness and accuracy of Richardson's own records. I have recently collated these four editions, and the purpose of this paper is to present my findings on the first set of revisions he made in print — the second edition of 1749.

Besides providing further evidence of Richardson's reflective habits, and of his exchanges with his contemporary audience, the changes in his most famous novel also have direct bearing on the recently growing interest in critical editions of Richardson's works. Since he added over two hundred pages of text to Clarissa by the time of the third edition in 1751, it has generally been assumed that the third, or some combination of the third and fourth, best illustrates his final intention. Following that assumption, all modern editors (with one very recent exception) have printed the third rather than the first.

Neither the Everyman edition, first published in 1932, nor the Modern Library abridgement of 1950 identifies which text it uses, but they both are in fact based on some version of the third edition. George Sherburn's abridgement for the Riverside Editions (1962) explicitly states that it follows the typical pattern of conflating passages from different texts and "is based on the faulty text given in Everyman's Library, which has been collated with that of 1759, which in turn, chiefly for misprints, omissions of essential words, etc., has been compared with the texts of 1748 and 1751."[4] The modern version generally regarded as "standard," though having no special claim to that designation, is the Shakespeare Head Edition of 1930, now out of print. It is based on the 1751 text, and according to the editors, it follows all of that edition's "inconsistencies of spelling and punctuation . . . as faithfully as possible."

The one exception to this practice is Philip Stevick's abridged version, published in April, 1971 for the Rinehart Press. Following Kinkead-Weekes' suggestion that the third edition "is in many ways cruder than the first," Mr. Stevick argues that the first is the better one: "although the revised text is better prose, the text in the first edition produces far more successfully the illusion of authentic letters unmediated by a controlling author. . . . The substantial difference between


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the editions, however, lies not in such small and subtle variations but in great blocks of material which were added to the third edition."[5] It is these large blocks of material that Kinkead-Weekes had previously argued were probably restored by Richardson in response to a hostile public. "But if the changes are proved to be," Kinkead-Weekes asks, "with relatively few exceptions, the direct result of the misinterpretations of an uncritical audience, the definition of 'intention' becomes less simple. Which represents Richardson's real intention: the novel he wrote expecting an audience capable of appreciating it, or the revisions for one he found careless, superficial, and sentimental?"[6]

This is where the problem now stands. Before it can be solved, much more evidence is needed about precisely what Richardson did change in his variant editions. Only the full scope of the evidence can help scholars determine whether it is true that the substantial difference between the editions lies not in "small and subtle variations" but primarily in the large blocks of material inserted into the third version. On the basis of these findings an editor can then decide which text represents the author's final intention, which one offers scholars the best critical text of Clarissa, which version achieves maximum power as an artistic masterpiece, and which one should finally be printed to make a popular edition available for the pleasure of new generations of readers. There are no easy answers or procedures with respect to any of these four issues. Each one confronts more than one option; the evidence presented by Richardson's revisions is voluminous and exceedingly complex; the assumptions and criteria used to support any conclusion need to be carefully tested against alternatives.