The Social Design Of Fielding's Novels

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
James E. Evans, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: During the last two decades we have received a "definitive" reading from two editors of the Wesleyan Edition of the Works of Henry Fielding to complement definitive editions of Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones. According to Martin C. Battestin and Henry K. Miller, we must read these novels—and presumably, Amelia—as emblem, allegory, or romance in which character and plot illustrate abstractions. In doing so, however, we slight the representational art of a novelist who dealt continuously with the lives of men in communities—before his first novel, as a lawyer riding the Western Circuit of England and as a political journalist; and before his last, as a justice of the peace in London. I suggest that Fielding was much more interested in social mimesis than this new reading of his novels allows. He sets the actions of his fiction in communities which determine their significance. Unlike the vague criminal realm of Moll Flanders or the isolated households of Pamela, Fielding's communities extend from postilion to peer; and unlike the grotesques of Roderick Random, his characters are carefully integrated into social patterns. As this essay will show, we must give more consideration to the social design which, in itself, constitutes a major part of the meaning of Joseph Andrews, Tom Jones, and Amelia.

Additional Information

College Literature 7 (1980): 91-103.
Language: English
Date: 1980
Social issues, Context, Henry Fielding, Literary analysis, English literature

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