The History of Henry Fielding - Vol. 1

By Wilbur L. Cross; Humphrey Milford | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
JOSEPH ANDREWS
I

The success of Richardson made a novelist of Fielding. Without a "Pamela" there would have been no "Joseph Andrews." For this new turn in his art Fielding was equipped at all points. It was as easy for him to write a novel as to write a play. There was but little worth while in the realistic fiction of his own or earlier times with which he was not well acquainted. He had read "The Golden Ass" of Apuleius, and presumably "The Satyricon" of Petronius, a copy of which was in his library. Ever since his school days, he had taken supreme delight in "The Dialogues" of Lucian, which had led him into the way of irony and burlesque. Antiquity could supply him with little else bearing directly upon the novel as distinguished from romance and wild adventure. As a boy, too, he had met with a translation of "Don Quixote"--it must have been the one made by Motteux--and he had adapted, while at Leyden, the Knight of La Mancha to the English stage for a contrast between the noble idealism of a Spanish gentleman and the hypocrisies and sordid motives of a group of English men and women gathered at a country inn. He may never have seen a Spanish rogue story, depicting, in the form of an autobiography, the seamy side of life with a comic or farcical intent; but this type of novel as adjusted to French manners he was familiar with, and he praised it again and again for its truth to human nature. The French line, so far as it concerns Fielding, began with

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