Henry Fielding wrote both Joseph Andrews () and Shamela () in response to Samuel Richardson’s book Pamela (), of which. FIELDING’S RICHARDSON: SHAMELA, JOSEPH ANDREWS AND PARODY REVISITED1. Joseph Andrews is the first of three novels (Tom Jones and Amelia . Joseph Andrews wasn’t even his first foray into Pamela-land, since he also penned An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews in You might say that.
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Shamela, Joseph Andrews and Parody Revisited. Joseph Andrews is the first of three novels Tom Jones and Amelia are the other two which form the main stream of Fielding’s andrfws. The two fictions which were included in the Miscellanies ofthe Journey from this World to the Next and Jonathan Wild, were probably written earlier and are in various ways outside the line of development he established in the novels for which he is best remembered and through which his influence on later fiction was most fully exercised.
The brooding figure of the rival novelist Richardson hovers over this development from the beginning. It does so not in any simple sense as an object of parody, although, as often happened in the writings of Fielding’s satiric predecessors and contemporaries, including Swift, Pope, and Gay, parody provided both the impulse and the frame for a discourse which transcends the object of parody.
If Richardson had not existed, Fielding would have had to invent him, as an embodiment of a moral and social outlook, and a literary manner, against and through which he could define his own.
InSamuel Richardson, a printer, published Pamela, a novel in letters which told of a servant-girl’s virtuous resistance to the advances of her master Mr. The latter eventually marries her, and she becomes the Lady of B— Hall. The book was subtitled Virtue Rewarded and hostile readers found it easy to impute a calculating prudence to the heroine’s chaste conduct. Fielding’s brilliant parody, Shamela, did precisely that, as the name implies Fielding also converted Mr.
Shamela mimics Richardson’s epistolary form, in which the story is told in letters or journals by the characters themselves, and Fielding does. But his parody clearly identified itself as a patrician putdown, in a tradition of literary class-warfare which went back to the triumphs of wits against cits in the comedy and satire of the Ad, and to the uppish treatment of dunces, hacks and city dignitaries in the writings of Swift and Aandrews.
The patrician accents were not simple cases of what came later to be called snobbery. Neither Swift nor Pope pretended to high birth, and some of their lordliest putdowns, like those of Fielding himself, were at the expense of lords and of lordly pride of rank: In that sense, even a lord’s uppishness could be called ‘low1, with the added sting that it was this way of putting it that would be felt to be the most cutting.
Fielding’s treatment of Richardson is pervasively informed by a distaste for hypocrisy and prudential self-interestedness. Whether or not he was right to identify these qualities with Richardson is of secondary importance in Shamela, and still less important in the later novels, where Fielding’s moral outlook is articulated in its more positive forms: The heroes of both Tom Jones and Amelia have extra-marital loves which express in a limited way a joseoh of disposition which the novels plainly endorse, despite their transgression against an established morality to which Fielding remains loyal: Tom’s or Booth’s romantically and morally approved love for Sophia and Amelia is seen as a higher expression of the same essential goodness.
The fullest treatment of this question occurs in the chapter “Of Love” in Tom Jones. Joseh so, Fielding’s sexual morality is not free of gentlemanly point- scoring. There is always shamelq hint that the gentleman is able to take freedoms from which others are excluded. Even in Tom Jones and Amelia, when Richardsonian parody no longer appears as a first-level preoccupation, Fielding makes a point of not offering descriptive details of his heroes’ liaisons for the sake of readers “whose Devotion to the Fair Sex.
He is alluding to pornographic books, “certain French Novels”including some with pictorial illustrations.
But there is almost certainly a subtextual andrewd. The general implication is that, unlike Richardson or the wanton French, a gentlemanly reader, or narrator, is not going to lose his cool over other people’s sexual doings, either in disapproval or in any excessive interest in what went on. Shamela Andrews, published in Apriland Fielding’s aand length novel, The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews, published ten months later, in February Shamela may have been written before Fielding knew the identity of the author of Pamela.
The parody was never owned by Fielding, though it is almost certainly by him. Its pseudonymous author was Mr. Conny Keyber, a composite allusion to two contemporary writers.
The first of these was Colley Cibber, the playwright and poet-laureate, who was soon to become the hero of the final version of Pope’s Dunciadand whose recent autobiography, An Apology for the Life of Mr.
Colley Cibber, Comedian, had appeared just before and is echoed in its title. The other writer alluded to in the pseudonym is Con- yers Middleton, author of a Life of Cicero which had appeared in February and was dedicated to Lord Hervey, a courtier satirized by Pope as Sporus and Lord Fanny, a name which Fielding took up in Miss Fanny, the dedicatee of Shamela.
The name reappears disconcertingly as that of the heroine of Joseph Andrews. Hervey surfaces again as Beau Didapper in Joseph Andrews, whose portrait as a mincing, sexually feeble fop partly derives from the Sporus of Pope’s Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnotthough Fielding’s tone is one of genially contemptuous machismo quite different from Pope’s stinging ferocity.
Joseph Andrews with Shamela and Related Writings | W. W. Norton & Company
Shamela thus had at least three znd as its target. Its method of compound parody, in which several victims to some extent compete for attention as well as rubbing their discredit off on one another, is a feature of Augustan writing.
The principal target, however, was Richardson’s novel, a work which shaped Fielding’s imagination in a reactive way in nearly all his subsequent fiction. And the three principal themes of the.
Joseph Andrews with Shamela and Related Writings
These three elements, frequently noticed in anti-Richardson- ian writings, were seen by Fielding in particular as forming an amalgam of moral, social and stylistic indecency against which he sought to establish his own style and tone, and indeed his public character as an author. The critique of style may in one sense be seen as directly bound up with the exposure of hypocrisy.
The mode of writing Richardson was to describe as “to the Moment” made claims to immediacy and unadorned reporting which might be thought of as one of the deceptions to be exposed. Jewkes and I supped together upon a hot buttered Apple-Pie; and about ten o’Clock we went to Bed” Letter X  – mimic styles Fielding would have deplored even when they were used, as in their curious way they are here, in the service of unadorned truth.
The objection to overparticularity in trivial things as itself a badge of vulgarity, irrespective of content, is a dominant note.
By the same token, the parody of Richardson’s hot scenes, as when Squire Booby “steals his Hand into my Bosom, which I, as if in my Sleep, press close to me with mine, and then pretend to awake” Letter VI is not a statement of prudery on the parodist’s part, but expresses contempt for those who immerse their imaginations in details a gentleman would not think worth communicating. Richardson’s prurient sex scenes became a satirical commonplace, fair game for suggesting that his morality was hypocritical cant, but one of the putdowns of Squire Booby in Shamela is that, like Beau Didapper in Joseph Andrews, he is not a very passionate profligate: Sir, says I, you had better not offer to be rude; well, says he, no more I won’t then; and away he went out of the Room.
I was so mad to be sure I could have cry’d” Letter VI . Shamela really prefers the more vigorous Parson Williams, so Booby is heading for cuckoldry, since Shamela’s objective is to trap him into marriage.
Her disappointment comes over as not merely opportunistic. Her eye is on the main chance, but she clearly likes a bit on the side which bit and whose side is a nice questionand the gusto with which she conveys this is one of her attractions. It is seldom remarked that Shamela is one of Fielding’s most engaging creations, brassy, demotic, direct and unshamming, with a more completely realized paradoxical geniality than that which suffuses another of Fielding’s early unalloyed villains, Jonathan Wild.
This demotic gusto would be unthinkable in Richardson, which makes Fielding’s rewriting of Pamela unjust as well as splendid.
Part of the point-scoring suggests a patrician appreciation, outside the range of merchant sensibilities, of such “low” energies. Richardson responded by saying Fielding was “low” himself. Fielding expressed in Tom Jones and elsewhere a fondness for fairground farces and puppet shows, and even ran a puppet-theatre of his own for a time. The penchant for stylised versions of popular forms is a feature of his writing, often startling, as when, after listing many portraits of famous beauties in the course of his description of his heroine Sophia, he tells the reader “if thou hast seen all these, be not afraid of the rude Answer which Lord Rochester once gave to a Man, who had seen many Things” Jones 4.
Lan allusion to a line attributed to Rochester, “If you have seen all this, then kiss mine A[rs]e. If Fielding remembered his use of the name Fanny in Shamela as a vulgar sobriquet for Lord Hervey – and it seems hardly likely that he did not, in view of the satire of Hervey in that novel, in the character of Beau Didapper – then his application of the name to the heroine of Joseph Andrews shows a similar readiness to risk intrusions of jokey grossness into essentially affectionate portrayals.
The convergence of the demotic and the lordly is of particular importance in Shamela, where exuberant use is made of the vulgarities of farcical insult and repartee, notably just before Booby began to offer to touch Shamela’s under-petticoat, when he blew in and found her reading a book, which he took to be “Rochester’s Poems”:. You, kiss – says I. A-gad, says he, and so I will.
Both the idiom, and the accelerated tempo of insult and repartee, a zany transformation of selected elements of Richardsonian dialogue, evoke the rhythms of farce rather than normal conversation.
In the quick- time succession of “says he” and “says I,” Fielding has transformed a purportedly neutral recording of dialogue, in which the author is notionally effaced, into something whose clockwork precisions are as exuberantly interventionist in effect as any of the explicit authorial displays and commentaries of the later fiction.
Mimicry of Richardson has become a primary genre of a quite unRichardsonian kind, with a use of slapstick which evokes not only the traditional popular idiom of fairground farces and their later counterparts but the sophisticated appropriation of these in modern experimental fiction and play-writing: Jarry’s Ubu cycle contains examples of stand-up routines of badmouthing closely resembling the driving oafishness of Shamelaic dialogue. The comedy of the precisely timed fart belongs to the demotic underside of the never-never lands of fairy tale and romance, in which coincidences and closures are forever assuring us of ideal congruences denied by the experience of daily life.
Precision farting is a fairground routine of apparently enduring appeal, and scenarios of farce, as of cartoon films, in which random events and unprogrammed physiological processes occur at the most fitting moment in the most fitting place, are outrageous assertions of the power of artifice to impose its order on the reality principle.
Fielding held no modernist notions of the artifice of art, however, and would not have understood what we value as the “surreal,” so that these effects came from an instinctual sense of their pleasures rather than from any consciously articulated avant-garde programme. In his next and more ambitious confrontation with Pamela, the Adventures of Joseph Andrewshe made much of his attachment to the real, what he insisted on as “exactest copying of Nature” 5. The Preface to Joseph Andrews is.
Joseph Andrews and Shamela : Henry Fielding :
But even Fielding’s most literal-minded admirers do not usually see the Preface as a manifesto of fictional realism, and the most interesting features of this defensive and self-conscious document are perhaps its contradictions and confusions.
Fielding’s protestation of “exactest copying” 5 is ostensibly written in opposition to, but is in practice in sympathy with, an assumption, joseh expressed anxrews mainstream literary and aesthetic theory from Dry den to Reynolds, that the merely lifelike is undesirable in art: Dryden saw a use for “deformity,” the “distorted face and antic gestures,”6 in comic portrayals, and Hume insisted that “if we copy low life, the strokes must be strong and remarkable,”7 so that anf process of transforming or “derealizing” might as appropriately be achieved by reducing reality to the grotesque or ugly as by raising it to nobility.
Such doctrines are inimical to the fictional portrayal we associate with Defoe or Richardson and the kind of “realism” principally expounded in Ian Watt’s account of the “rise of the novel. After denouncing romances as travesties of serious epic and tragedy, Fielding offers the definition of his novel as “a comic Epic-Poem in Prose; differing from Comedy, as the serious Epic from Tragedy” 3. The burden of this distinction is that comedy has a “more extended and comprehensive” range 3drawn from everyday.
After some remarks on the use of burlesque in “the Diction” 4to which I shall return, he proceeds to an account of how he has carefully. Indeed, no two Species of Writing can differ more widely than the Comic and the Burlesque: And perhaps, there is one Reason, why a Comic Writer should of all others be the least excused for deviating from Nature, since it may not be always so easy for a serious Poet to meet with the Great and Admirable; but Life every where furnishes an accurate Observer with the Ridiculous.
A present-day reader needs warning that “the Ridiculous” in this passage has a more neutral or non-pejorative sense than is customary in modern usage, as arousing laughter rather than ridicule, while “comic” and “serious” have more specialized significations: By comparison with any of these, a claim of “exactest copying” 5even for a work as stylised as Joseph Andrews, would be sustainable on any common-sense view, as well as in terms of traditional conceptions of comic realism.
But the claim would have no standing in comparison with the work of Defoe or Richardson, a truth which Fielding would at all times be more disposed to publicize than to conceal, and his claim is, as I shall argue, compromised from within in other shame,a.
The first distinction goes back to seventeenth-century mock-heroic, and has its locus classicus in the claim by the Sjamela poet Boileau, in the foreword to his poem Le Lutrinto have invented a burlesque nouveau, in which low characters like clock-makers and fishmongers speak in the high language of Dido and Aeneas, andrfws contrast to the then more common formula in which Virgil’s protagonists might themselves be comically travestied in a low demotic idiom.
An English example of the older mode is the opening of Charles Cotton’s Scarronides, an adaptation of Scarron’s Virgile travesti: Official Augustan theory favoured the new kind, as lending grandeur to satire and making of it, in Dryden’s words, “undoubtedly a species” of heroic poetry itself, whereas the other came shamelaa be downgraded for its lowering effect. Fielding’s key-distinction is between both kinds of burlesque on the one hand and the purportedly realist mode of his new “Species of Writing” on the other, shamelw distinction to which he attaches special importance “because, I have often heard that Name [Burlesque] given to Performances Fielding was quite ready to blur this distinction in his Preface to his sister Sarah’s novel David Simplewhere full-scale mock-heroic poems like Le Lutrin and the Dunciad are called comic epics.
But the main distinction is already hedged in the Preface to Joseph Andrews by a secondary distinction between a burlesque involving “Sentiments and Characters” 4 and one involving “Diction” 4 only, which he had earlier said he considered admissible, and “of which many Instances will occur in this Work, as in the Descriptions of the Battles, and some other Places, not necessary to be pointed out to the Classical Reader; for whose Entertainment those Parodies or Burlesque Imitations are chiefly calculated” 4.
These rather brazen slippages tell their own tale. The anrrews mock- heroic style, occurring in “many Instances” 4instantly neutralises any suggestion that “exactest copying” 5 is intended to mean a Richard- sonian factuality, or any style in which notation of events takes precedence over displays of authorial performance. The argument that the burlesque flourishes are just extra fun for learned readers is belied by their frequency, despite Fielding’s dismissal of the importance of mere diction, “which as it is the Dress of Poetry, doth like the Dress shamlea Men establish Characters, the one of the whole Poem, and the other of the whole Man, in vulgar Opinion, beyond any of their greater Excellencies” 4.
The latter argument, invoking an old anddews about not mistaking a man for his clothes, introduces further confusions. It is in the first place a striking contravention wnd that decorum of suitable styles with which the image of language as the dress of thought was traditionally sbamela Nothing in his somewhat casual manner, his immediate context or known outlook, suggests revolt, and the implicit or hidden direction of his emphasis on an “exactest copying” 5 clothed in the distorting garments of burlesque diction may perhaps be surmised from the example of Pope.
Pope’s or Fielding’s claims are rhetorically andrewss hoc and not formally in conflict with adjacent pronouncements about dress. But shanela haste with which concepts of dress supervene is revealing.