Fielding is best known for Tom Jones, but these two novels are
equally worth reading. Infuriated by the sententious hypocrisy of
Samuel Richardson's Pamela, Fielding set out to parody it in
Shamela (1741), a lively burlesque in which the gullible Parson
Tickletext falls for the lovely heroine - who is not as innocent as
he thinks. Fielding returned the charge in 1742 with Joseph
Andrews, a 'comic romance' which began as another parody of Pamela,
but despite itself became a serious novel in its own right, full of
gorgeously memorable characters - the innocent hero, the lovely
Fanny, the libidinous Lady Booky, poor Parson Adams... Both books,
a century and a half later, can still tickle the sense of humour,
for Fielding remains the founding father of the humrous novel - the
inventor of a genre which led on to Sterne, Dickens, Wodehouse and
Tom Sharpe. (Kirkus UK)
‘Kissing, Joseph, is but a Prologue to a Play. Can I believe a young Fellow of your Age and Complexion will be content with Kissing?’
Joseph Andrews, Henry Fielding’s first full-length novel, depicts the many colourful and often hilarious adventures of a comically chaste servant. After being sacked for spurning the lascivious Lady Booby, Joseph takes to the road, accompanied by his beloved Fanny Goodwill, a much-put-upon foundling girl, and Parson Adams, a man often duped and humiliated, but still a model of Christian charity. In the boisterous short tale Shamela, a brilliant parody of Richardson’s Pamela, the spirited and sexually honest heroine uses coyness and mock modesty to catch herself a rich husband. Together these works anticipate Fielding’s great comic epic Tom Jones, with their amiable good humour and pointed social satire.
Judith Hawley’s introduction compares the works of Fielding and Richardson, and discusses sex and class relations, and the literary and political world of the time. This volume also includes a chronology and suggestions for further reading.
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