It’s Not How Big It Is, It’s Whether You Can Read It

Hi, everyone. This is Clarissa.


Clarissa and I are going to be spending the next 1,500 pages together, because Samuel Richardson was a sadist and so is life.

To put 1,500 pages in perspective, here’s Clarissa stacked up (literally) against a few of the other behemoths on The List:


For the record, that’s…

Gargantua and Pantagruel: 1,021 pages
The Golden Notebook: 688 pages (very thick pages, in this case)
Anna Karenina: 864 pages
The Tale of Genji: 1,120 pages

I couldn’t even fit In Search of Lost Time into the picture, in all its 4,217-page glory, because Proust died before he could edit it (probably). Here it is, so it doesn’t feel left out:


Other 700+ page books on The List include The Brothers Karamazov, Middlemarch, The Iliad, The Lord of the Rings, Gone With the Wind, Tom Jones, Vanity Fair, U.S.A., An American Tragedy, The Woman in White, The Magic Mountain, and The Count of Monte Cristo.

Needless to say, my elbows are getting tired.

Still, even after all this time and all those pages, Clarissa‘s immense proportions leave a staggering impression. It’s outrageous, how long this book is. Unholy. It’s an abomination of a book, if there ever was one. Just look at the offensive font size—it’s like an assault to the eyes:


But it’s OK. It’s all good. Everything is just fine, because this time next year (hopefully) (pretty please) (God willing), The Challenge will be a dusty memory collecting haze, or whatever. You know, a Thing that is Past. Ancient History of an Olden Day. This time next year, I will be sitting on a beach with a Beach Read in a delightfully liberal font—a font so large, the pages look scared. A font so large, the retiree three towels away can read it without squinting. A font so large, I could wear it like a medal.

A font so large, Clarissa would start to wonder about the size of its serif.

I can hardly wait. I can hardly stand it, being so close to the endgame and yet so (distressingly) (you’ve got to be kidding me) (WHY God WHY) far. But knowing it’s coming is enough—as long as there’s a beach on the other side.

Knowing it’s coming is plenty, actually—as long as I can make serif-as-penis jokes in the meantime.


14 thoughts on “It’s Not How Big It Is, It’s Whether You Can Read It

  1. Are you reading it because you want to or just because you think you should? I tried his other big novel Pamela and gave up in frustration because it was so slow. Hope the same doesn’t apply to Clarissa

    • I feel your pain! I listened to Tom Jones on audiobook, so I think that helped. I’ve had to stop looking at other people’s TBRs and challenges to keep my own TBR a vaguely manageable size, haha.

      • Yeah I’m finding that narration helps a lot with long, slow, dull books. Gives them some life, in a way. I wish Audible had an audiobook of Clarissa, but I’d hate to think how long it’d be. The Count of Monte Cristo was 48 hours!

        I’ve actually never tried a speed reading app — I should look into that…

    • FIVE. Five years. So, so long.

      Up until I started reading Clarissa, I was estimating a May 2017 finish. I might have to postpone that to 2027 if this book doesn’t start to pick up a little, though. And then there’s always the possibility that I might yawn myself to death first.

  2. Pingback: #66 Clarissa, Samuel Richardson | The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

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