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Love, lust and human suffering - passion in all its aspects - was Samuel Richardson's great theme. The essays in Passion and Virtue are thematically united by the moral vision in Richardson's novels. The novels reveal the conflicting demands of human passion, through the ennobling and destructive aspects of love and lust, and the attempt to achieve a virtuous existence through Christian suffering. This conflict is considered and critically analyzed in fourteen essays, all originally published in Eighteenth-Century Fiction, the leading periodical for fiction from this period.
Recently, Richardson's works have had a special acclaim, attracting more critical interest than those of any other eighteenth-century novelist. Encompassing a wide range of responses to the moral conflict portrayed at the heart of Richardson's novels, critical approaches in Passion and Virtue include the political, economic, psychological, philosophical, theological and biblical,. While his masterpiece, Clarissa, receives the most attention, both Pamela and Sir Charles Grandison are also examined, the latter only recently regaining critical favour. Each essay reflects the author's expertise and demonstrates the significant scholarship published in Eighteenth Century Fiction.