NOVEL PAGE NOVEL PAGE NOVEL PAGE STERNE STERNE SMOLLETT SMOLLETT RICHARDSON RICHARDSON RICHARDSON RICHARDSON RADCLIFFE RADCLIFFE FIELDING FIELDING FIELDING DEFOE DEFOE BURNEY BURNEY BURNEY BURNEY SYLLABUS
 

 

      Henry Fielding Page under construction.

 
AN EXPLANATION...

I have time enough to create only brief notes for Fielding and Joseph Andrews, unlike the discussion of Defoe. These notes reproduce the introductory lecture I gave in class.

 

GENERAL COMMENTS

Henry Fielding influenced the main tradition of the English novel through the eighteenth century (e.g., Smollett) and the nineteenth century (e.g., Dickens and Thackeray). With the tightly structured Tom Jones, in which every detail has a purpose, Fielding contributed a sense of structure to the development of the English novel; some critics have called it one of the best plotted novels in English, despite a lengthy interpolated story, "The Man on the Hill." With the character Tom Jones, he introduced a new kind of fictional heroľa good hearted, well intentioned, generous young man with ordinary human weakness, one who yields to temptation with women and to make errors in judgement. With his theories of the novel, expressed primarily in Joseph Andrews, Fielding attempted to give dignity and status to the new genre of the novel by relating it to the classical epic.

For Fielding, art is artifice or deliberately crafted (this view contrasts with modern theories of realism as a "slice of life"). Nevertheless, Fielding as well as Richardson and Sterne was regarded as startlingly realistic and widely admired by contemporary readers on the continent.

Fielding believed, as did most eighteenth century writers and educated readers, that the purpose of art is to create pleasure which is both civilized and civilizing.

 

BIOGRAPHICAL FACTS

I find it remarkable that Fielding was able to create a marvelously comic novel under terribly distressing circumstances: he was racked by gout; his beloved daughter Charlotte was dying and later did die; his wife was not expected to survive her illness, though she did. The inconsistencies in the novel can be attributed to his unhappiness. After Lady Booby dismisses Joseph, he has to return his livery, yet on his journey, he at times wears clothing borrowed from a fellow servant and at other times wears livery. And Parson Adams goes forty-eight hours without sleep because Fielding lost track of time in the novel.

 

FIELDING WEBSITES

Fielding and Morality
        A student essay.

"Fielding and Smollett," The Cambridge History of English and American Literature
        Full discussion of Fielding's life and works, including a comparison of his writings with Smollett's.

Fielding, Henry, by xref
        Quotations from Fielding's writings.

Henry Fielding (1797-1754).
        Brief biography. Ignore the pitch to buy books.

Henry Fielding, by Guardian Unlimited
        A very brief summary of his life and works. Some useful tidbits.

Henry Fielding & Dorset
        Brief biography and brief comments on his major writings.

 

FIELDING SYLLABUS

Day 7 (W, Sept. 25) Fielding, Joseph Andrews, pp.ix-xiv, 1-58
  Overview of Fielding
  Overview of Joseph Andrews
Day 8 (M, Sept. 30) Fielding, Joseph Andrews, pp. 58-121
Day 9 (W, Oct. 2) Fielding, Joseph Andrews, pp. 121-186
Day 10 (M, Oct. 7) Fielding, Joseph Andrews, pp. 186-248
First paper due

Revised: October 6, 2002