"Shamela" is a brilliant parody of Samuel Richardson's "Pamela", in which a virtuous servant girl long resists her master's advances and is eventually 'rewarded' with marriage. Fielding's far more spirited and sexually honest heroine, by contrast, merely uses coyness and mock modesty as techniques to catch a rich husband. "Joseph Andrews", Fielding's first full-length novel, can also be seen as a response to Richardson, as the lascivious Lady Booby sets out to seduce her comically chaste servant Joseph, (himself in love with the much-put-upon Fanny Goodwill). As in "Tom Jones", Fielding takes a huge cast of characters out on the road and exposes them to many colourful and often hilarious adventures.
Henry Fielding (1707 - 54) started his career as a playwright until his outspoken satirical plays so annoyed Walpole's Government that a new Licensing Act was introduced to drive him from the stage. He turned to writing various 'comic epics in prose', including SHAMELA (1741), JOSEPH ANDREWS (1742) and TOM JONES (1749). A master innovator, he is credited with creating the first modern novels in English. Judith Hawley is a lecturer in English at Royal Holloway, University of London.
"Hawley's introduction is a model of what such a thing should be (for an undergraduate audience): full of information, but not too pushy. She manages to touch on a truly remarkable number of important bases in just a few pages an impressive accomplishment. The notes are good, too. This is the best edition out there for college students." Douglas Patey, Sophia Smith Professor of English, Smith College"
Fielding is best known for Tom Jones, but these two novels are equally worth reading. Infuriated by the sententious hypocrisy of Samuel Richardson's Pamela, Fielding set out to parody it in Shamela (1741), a lively burlesque in which the gullible Parson Tickletext falls for the lovely heroine - who is not as innocent as he thinks. Fielding returned the charge in 1742 with Joseph Andrews, a 'comic romance' which began as another parody of Pamela, but despite itself became a serious novel in its own right, full of gorgeously memorable characters - the innocent hero, the lovely Fanny, the libidinous Lady Booky, poor Parson Adams... Both books, a century and a half later, can still tickle the sense of humour, for Fielding remains the founding father of the humrous novel - the inventor of a genre which led on to Sterne, Dickens, Wodehouse and Tom Sharpe. (Kirkus UK)
Henry Fielding, Judith Hawley
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