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So I was getting ready to reread Don Quijote (1605)(Miguel de Cervantes 1547-1616)(see Orrin's review) in the excellent Burton Raffel translation and as I was looking for information about the book and author, saw repeated references to Fielding's Joseph Andrews.  I'd read his Tom Jones a couple of years ago and found it kind of tough sledding, but when I stumbled upon this one at a library book sale for a quarter, it seemed a stroke of destiny.

The parallels with Don Quijote are readily apparent.  First of all, the book consists of a series of humorous travel adventures; second, the travellers involved seem too innocent to survive in the harsh world that confronts them.  When Joseph Andrews, the naive footman of Lady Booby, deflects the amorous advances of both her Ladyship and Slipslop, the Lady's servant, he is sent packing.  Upon his dismissal, Joseph, along with his friend and mentor Parson Adams, an idealistic and good-hearted rural clergyman, who essentially takes the physical role of Sancho Panza but the moral role of Quijote, sets out to find his beloved but chaste enamorata, Fanny Goodwill, who had earlier been dismissed from Lady Booby's service as a result of Slipslop's jealousy.   In their travels they are set upon repeatedly by robbers, continually run out of funds and Adams gets in numerous arguments, theological and otherwise.  Meanwhile, Fanny, whom they meet up with along the way, is nearly raped any number of times and is eventually discovered to be Joseph's sister, or maybe not..  The whole thing concludes with a farcical night of musical beds, mistaken identities and astonishing revelations.

I've seen this referred to as the first modern novel; I'm not sure why, in light of it's obvious debt to Cervantes.  But it does combine those quixotic elements with a seemingly accurate portrayal of 18th Century English manners and the central concern with identity and status do place it squarely in the modern tradition.

At any rate, it is very funny and, for whatever reason, seemed a much easier read than Tom Jones.  I recommend it unreservedly.


Grade: (B+)


See also:

Book-related and General Links:
    -The Henry Fielding Page (San Antonio College Litweb)
    -BIO: Henry "Feilding" Fielding  (1707-1754)(Incompetech)
    -An Outline of the English Novel: The Short List (San Antonio College LitWeb)
    -ETEXT: Journal of A Voyage to Lisbon by Henry Fielding
    -REVIEW: of HENRY FIELDING By Donald Thomas (Pat Rogers, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Derek Jarrett: Rogue Genius NY Review of Books
       Henry Fielding: A Life by Martin C. Battestin and Ruthe R. Battestin
       New Essays by Henry Fielding: His Contributions to the Craftsman (1734-1739) and Other
       Early Journalism by Martin C. Battestin
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Frank Kermode: Life and Death of the Novel NY Review of Books
       Henry Fielding: Mask and Feast by Andrew Wright
       The True Patriot by Henry Fielding and edited by Miriam Austin Locke
       Radical Dr. Smollett by Donald Bruce
       Jane Austen: A Study of Her Artistic Development by A. Walton Litz
    -ESSAY: Reader Participation and Rationalism in Fielding's Tom Jones (LOTHAR CERNY)
    -ESSAY: Tom Jones: The Comedy of Knowledge [John Unsworth, Modern Language Quarterly, 48.3 (September 1987)]
    -ESSAY OUTLINE: Turning the Hearts of Our Enemies: The Game-Theoretical Design of Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews  Overheads for a lecture  in Elizabeth Heckendorn Cook's English 30, W97
(Francis Steen, Department of English, UCSB)
    -Early Modern (1600-1800) Literary Resources