The History of Henry Fielding - Vol. 1

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

CHAPTER XIV
THE GLORY OF THE MISCELLANIES

" Chrysipus" and "An Essay on Nothing" were experiments in those brief Menippean satires such as Lucian sometimes composed. Of the same class, too, was "A Dialogue between Alexander the Great and Diogenes the Cynic"; while "An Interlude between Jupiter, Juno, Apollo, and Mercury" was a variation on one of Lucian's "Dialogues of the Gods." Fielding was, however, more fond of the "Dialogues of the Dead," and that masterpiece of burlesque and irony called "A True Story," which parodies tales of adventure and takes the reader down into Hades for conversations with the Greek heroes quite different in tone from those given by Homer in the Odyssey. As already described, Fielding had long ago descended into the lower world for the scene of his "Pleasures of the Town" in "The Author's Farce"; and in "The Champion" of May 24, 1740, he had adapted one of the Charon dialogues--it is one that boys read at Eton--to the society of his own time, introducing among others himself and the laureate. In a similar vein but with more use of "A True Story," he now wrote "A Journey from this World to the Next," which surpasses in humour and irony all other attempts by himself or anyone else to modernize Lucian. Except for an incident here and there, it is not an imitation; it came from an imagination filled with the literature of Hades as one finds it not only in Lucian but almost equally in Homer and Virgil. Just as Cervantes, had he flourished in the England of George the Second, might have written

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