Fielding Picaresque

July 24, 2007 § Leave a comment

Between the years 1729 and 1737 Henry Fielding wrote 25 plays, including his most well known, Tom Thumb but he acclaimed critical notice with his novels. The best known are The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749), a picaresque novel in which the tangled comedies of coincidence are offset by the neat, architectonic structure of the story, and The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews (1742), a parody of Richardson’s Pamela (1740). In 1734, he married Charlotte Cradock, who became his model for Sophia Western in Tom Jones and for the heroine of Amelia, the author’s last novel.

In 1747, several years after Charlotte Fielding’s death, he caused some scandal by marrying his wife’s maid and friend Mary Daniel – he was condemned by every snob in England. She was about to bear his child, and Fielding would not abandon her to disgrace.

Fielding’s writings became more socially orientated – among other things, he opposed public hangings. After having studied the law throughout his life, he was appointed to the bar in 1740 and he was made justice of the peace for the City of Westminster in 1748 and for the county of Middlesex in 1749. He fought constantly against corruption and with his brother he set up the Bow Street Runners, a detective force that later turned into Scotland Yard. Fielding was a pioneer of the novel as an art form and Tom Jones has been the most admired of them all by many writers who followed him, including Jane Austen

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