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Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding

Joseph Andrews (1742)

by Henry Fielding

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
In all honestly, I'm getting rid of this tome.

I would like to chuck this book at my college professor who assigned it to us for Short Stories and Literature. He praised the book six ways to Sunday, claiming nothing short of this book being written by Divine sources.

I believe he meant Infernal.

There was nothing remotely funny (as he said) or interesting about the story, the characters...not to mention that I went from a high B to a low D because he based the final on nothing but Joseph Andrews.

He must've been Fielding in a former life. ( )
  robfucious | Apr 16, 2015 |
In 1740, Samuel Richardson published his landmark epistolary novel Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded, in which a lowly servant girl, through her moral rectitude in rejecting her master's lustful advances, not only reforms her master's character but herself ascends to the ranks of the genteel. Henry Fielding parodied Pamela in his first work of prose fiction, Shamela. He then broadened the attack with Joseph Andrews, which satirizes not only the content but the very style of Richardson's novel by importing the comic forms of the Spanish picaresque novel.

Joseph Andrews is the brother of Richardson's heroine, Pamela Andrews. Like his sister, Joseph is a servant in the household of the local gentry, the Booby family. Pamela's master, known in that novel only as "Mr. B," is the nephew of Joseph's mistress, the widowed Lady Booby. Lady Booby is secretly in love with Joseph, and constantly torn between her feelings and the potential shame of having an affair with her footman. To complicate matters, her wicked housekeeper, Mrs. Slipslop, is also lusting after Joseph. But Joseph himself is true to his hometown sweetheart, an orphaned girl named Fanny.

After Lady Booby fires Joseph for his rejection of her overt advances, Joseph, Fanny, and their friend and mentor Abraham Adams go on an extended road journey which forms the bulk of the novel. Adams, a scholarly but impoverished Anglican pastor, is an absent-minded and often deluded comic figure like Quixote. He is constantly the butt of practical jokes and mishaps, having his clothes reduced to scanty rags, chamber pots dumped over his head, etc. Fanny, meanwhile, is so beautiful and shapely that she attracts libertines and potential rapists wherever she goes.

The three penniless wanderers meet a variety of people on their journey, being at times robbed, beaten, jailed, swindled, and starved. At other times they are rescued, nursed, feasted and consoled. Most of the people they meet are hypocrites, especially those of the upper classes. A nobleman might have them hunted like foxes for sport, while a bedraggled peddler would give them his last sixpence. The overriding moral message of the novel is to judge people by what they do, not by what they say, by the amount of wealth they have accumulated, or by their position in society.

Fielding also satirizes the prolixity of Richardson's work. At one point in the middle of an exciting fight scene, the author interjects: "Reader, we would make a simile on this occasion, but for two reasons: the first is, it would interrupt the description, which should be rapid in this part; but that doth not weigh much, many precedents occurring for such an interruption: the second and much the greater reason is, that we could find no simile adequate to our purpose: for indeed, what instance could we bring to set before our reader’s eyes at once the idea of friendship, courage, youth, beauty, strength, and swiftness? all which blazed in the person of Joseph Andrews. Let those, therefore, that describe lions and tigers, and heroes fiercer than both, raise their poems or plays with the simile of Joseph Andrews, who is himself above the reach of any simile."

Notwithstanding Fielding's admonition against interruptions, he does digress frequently in the typical manner of the 18th century novel into the backgrounds of secondary characters. Every character must "tell his story," only some of which are directly relevant to the plot. On the whole, though, Joseph Andrews is a funny, uninhibited novel that, while it may not measure up to the author's masterpiece, Tom Jones, is still both fun to read and a noteworthy milestone in the history of the English novel. ( )
1 vote StevenTX | Jan 22, 2015 |
Richardson seems to me to be a prig; Defoe completely insufferable; Swift and Pope perhaps too smarmy even for me. And I like smarm. According to the introduction Fielding's meant to be more conservative than Richardson (these novels both take their main characters from Richardson's 'Pamela'), but as far as I can tell, this is an almost meaningless statement. Unlike Richardson and his characters, Fielding and his are warm and kind; Fielding attacks the stupidities of human kind that need attacking, and he's smarter than everyone. As for the story, it must be better if you've read 'Pamela,' but since that's almost impossible to do, I recommend just skipping to 'Joseph Andrews' and getting to know a couple of wonderful people. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
I recall it as being amusing but I read it 40 years ago so details are vague. ( )
  antiquary | Mar 3, 2010 |
Second only to Voltaire's Candide: Or Optimism (Penguin Classics), Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews is the funniest, most intelligent, satirical commentary I've ever read. Actually, let's get rid of the qualifiers, Joseph Andrews is one of the two funniest books I've ever read. (I first read it in college and it introduced me to the idea that important old books could also be highly entertaining, interesting, and illuminating.)

The book was first published in 1742 under the title "The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews, and of His Friend Mr. Abraham Adams" to some controversy. Fielding did not hesitate to poke merciless fun at just about everything 'respectable': religion, the law, lords and ladies, and sexual mores. Fielding attacked the moral hypocrisy of Joseph Richardson's popular Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded (Oxford World's Classics). (Fielding also wrote a short work, Shamela, that was a direct response to Pamela. Shamela is often sold together with Joseph Andrews See e.g., Joseph Andrews and Shamela (Penguin Classics).) Pamela created a huge literary controversy; Shamela and Joseph Andrews were just two of many mocking responses, although few others survive (see, e.g. Anti-Pamela and Shamela).

Joseph (who is Pamela's brother!) is a genial but naïve rustic and a footman in the service of Lady Booby (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). When Joseph rejects her very direct and bawdy advances, Lady Booby sends him packing. Joseph then begins walking home from London to the country to seek out (and marry) Fanny Goodwill, his lifelong sweetheart. Along the way he meets his hometown friend the amiable and forgetful Parson Abraham Adams. Parson Adams is on his way to London to sell his sermons for publication. When Adams discovers he has forgotten to pack said sermons, he and Joseph decide to travel home together. The trip is the departure point for many adventures and mishaps that expose the society's hypocrisy and inequities. Along the way, the reader meets many colorful characters whose pretensions often land them in dire circumstances - furnishing much hilarity to us.

Fielding purported to aim at nothing less the invention of a new literary form, the "comic epic-poem in prose". He says in his Preface, "it may not be improper to premise a few words concerning this kind of writing, which I do not remember to have seen hitherto attempted in our language." Fielding, however, was also known to write 'serio-comic', ironic introductions to his works, so some caution is in order. Nonetheless, the Preface accurately describes his "comic epic-poem in prose" as "differing from comedy, as the serious epic from tragedy: its action being more extended and comprehensive; containing a much larger circle of incidents, and introducing a greater variety of characters. It differs from the serious romance in its fable and action, in this: that as in the one these are grave and solemn, so in the other they are light and ridiculous; it differs in its characters, by introducing persons of inferiour rank, and consequently of inferiour manners, whereas the grave romance sets the highest before us; lastly in its sentiments and diction; by preserving the ludicrous instead of the sublime."

Absolutely the highest possible recommendation. ( )
1 vote dougwood57 | Oct 3, 2009 |
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Henry Fieldingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ehrenpreis, IrvinAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It is a trite but true observation that examples work more forcibly on the mind than precepts: and if this be just in what is odious and blamable, it is more strongly so in what is amiable and praiseworthy.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Some editions of this work are not just Joseph Andrews, but an edition with two works, Joseph Andrews & Shamela.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140431144, Mass Market Paperback)

Henry Fielding's comic novel "Joseph Andrews" was originally published in 1742 in two volumes. A takeoff on Samuel Richardson's "Pamela," it follows Pamela's brother Joseph in the model of the Tory satirists of the previous generation. Although begun as a parody, it became an accomplished novel and marks the beginning of Fielding's career as a serious novelist.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:57 -0400)

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Joseph Andrews, fired by his employer, Lady Booby, for refusing her advances, sets out from London to visit his sweetheart, Fanny, in the company of his friend, Parson Abraham Adams. Fate in the form of a mugging, a kidnapping, and a revelation about parentage seems to be against them, but the odyssey ends happily with a wedding… (more)

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