From Orality to Script: Literacy, Autonomy and Authority in Clarissa

  • Joanna Maciulewicz
Part of the New Directions in Book History book series (NDBH)


This chapter is an analysis of Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa as a study of the process of the transformation of the English society from an oral to a literate community and of a tragic predicament of the literate individual, who, in the words of Marshall McLuhan, is inescapably “a split man, a schizophrenic” (The Gutenberg Galaxy. The Making of Typographic Man, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962, 22). In the novel Richardson creates a whole spectrum of characters with varying levels of literacy who manifest the heightened awareness of the media of communication. The novel’s protagonists, Clarissa Harlowe and Robert Lovelace, have the highest levels of literacy, which is simultaneously their source of emancipation from the rules of community life, of their empowerment and of their weakness.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanna Maciulewicz
    • 1
  1. 1.Adam Mickiewicz University in PoznańPoznańPoland

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