Lovelace reading anew (L207)

She then told me, that she had put into writing her opinion of my general proposals; and there had expressed her mind as to clothes and jewels: but on my strange behaviour to her (for no cause that she knew of) on Sunday night, she had torn the paper in two.
I earnestly pressed her to let me be favoured with a sight of this paper, torn as it was. And, after some hesitation, she withdrew, and sent it to me by Dorcas.
I perused it again. It was in a manner new to me, though I had read it so lately: and, by my soul, I could hardly stand it. An hundred admirable creatures I called her to myself. But I charge thee, write not a word to me in her favour, if thou meanest her well; for, if I spare her, it must be all ex mero motu.

4 thoughts on “Lovelace reading anew (L207)

  1. Keri Mathis

    Juxtaposing this short excerpt with Lovelace's previous account of reading Clarissa's letter (**See Letter 202**) could be particularly insightful. In what ways does Clarissa's willingness to give Lovelace the letter change his interpretation of her letter? How does having permission to view the letter alter Lovelace's perception of the letter and of his relationship with Clarissa? I think there are many connections we could make to these points about audience, permission, and invasion of privacy that could perhaps foreshadow some events that occur later in the novel.

  2. Debra

    That the letter is "new" to him because he reads it from Clarissa herself suggests the rhetorical complexity of this chinese box of a novel. He can trust the letter, in a way, because he read by stealth. He can also trust the letter, in a different, "new" way, because she authorizes it. The issue of intentionality and how it can be offered and received is incredibly complicated.

  3. Keri Mathis

    Debra's comment here is interesting because it puts Clarissa in a place of authority again – while Lovelace did read the letter without her permission first, Clarissa's authorization of his reading of the letter changes the way he interacts with it and interprets it. It has an entirely new meaning to him now, which is due entirely to Clarissa intentionally giving him the letter.

  4. Jessica

    I agree with you both, Keri and Debra. Without regret, Lovelace relies on deception to learn more about Clarissa and to anticipate her next actions. But her authorization of the letter, allowing him to read it, has an even greater pull on him. This makes me think of how powerful letters are as artifacts in the novel. They represent the sustenance of a relationship to another person. If Lovelace reads the letter through deceit, it reduces letters to information-delivery. Lovelace swoons here not just because he's reading the letter, which he has already read, but because it was addressed and intentionally given to him. This seems ephemeral and extra-textual, but perhaps that's why he reacts the way he does to this letter.

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