Henry Fielding's Theory of the Comic Prose Epic

Henry Fielding's Theory of the Comic Prose Epic

Henry Fielding's Theory of the Comic Prose Epic

Henry Fielding's Theory of the Comic Prose Epic

Excerpt

This study was originally written in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the doctor's degree at the University of Wisconsin. Since submitting it for that purpose, however, I have checked over all the quotations and notes, and in particular, checked the list of volumes in Fielding's library from photostatic reproductions of the pamphlet at the British Museum. What I have presented is, I therefore trust, as nearly accurate as a considerable number of proof-readings can make it.

Much of the material is already known, but it has not heretofore been gathered together and presented in this form. Nor has Fielding as critic ever received, I feel, quite the attention he deserves. At one time, I hoped to be able to omit a good deal of the account of epic theory before Fielding, but I found that, in order to make this position clear, I had to retain much of the general history of the subject. I could wish that the learning necessary to presenting all these facts sat as lightly in these pages as they do in Fielding's critical essays, but Fielding, writing for a different purpose, could afford a carelessness which is denied me.

I take this opportunity of acknowledging my indebtedness to many persons for the assistance they have given me. In particular, I am deeply indebted to various tutors and officials of Oxford University, especially to Miss C. M. Burrowes and Miss Cecile Hugon for many kindnesses; to my colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, especially to Professor Henry B. Lathrop, whose suggestions gave me help at every turn; and to the librarians of the Bodleian Library, the Taylorian Institute, and the British Museum, without whose courtesy, it would have been impossible to locate much of the material here presented.

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