Samuel Richardson, Clarissa (1747), p. 893


"Cruel remembrance!" Clarissa writes to rewrite memory, to cover over the trace of "swift misfortunes" with a new, deliriously metered experience. The trauma of the past, however, occasionally erupts, breaking the lines on the page and bruising the shape of her verse. She tries to confound death and experience in a discourse of multiple division; the body is the cage and the soul a bird trapped within. Clarissa's soul differs from Sterne's starling precisely because the cry of "I can't get out-I can't get out," is informed by memory, fed by the past. Death itself becomes divided, its bugbear's face a mask on a friend (we remember that Lovelace is the natural bear, or a young lion, I forget which). The farthest textual intrusion angles in from outside, sloping into the text from above: "I could a tale unfold--Would harrow up thy soul!" If the note comes first, it establishes the quality of what's to come; if it comes last it defers indefinitely painful remembrance. She forgets as she writes only to remember.

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