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7 ENGL 4715.476 The Eighteenth-Century British Novel LECTURE 7: On Joseph Andrews (1742) Dr. Barbara Fitzpatrick “I declare here once for all, I describe not Men, but Manners; not an Individual but a Species.”~ Fielding, Joseph Andrews, 3.1 “I shall not learn my Duty from such as thee; I know what Charity is, better than to give to Vagabonds.”~ Parson Trulliber to Parson Adams, JA, 2.14 In the seventh week of the course, you are reading Fielding’s Joseph Andrews; reading this lecture; reading the excerpt from Battestin’s chapter 2 at e-Reserves; and writing Discussion Assignment 4 on Joseph Andrews. Henry Fielding’s The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews, and of His Friend Mr. Abraham Adams was the first comic novel in English. The Licensing Act of 1737, which essentially closed any theatres in opposition to the Government, forced Fielding out of drama, where he had been known for politically satirical farces, and into writing both essays and fiction. He brought with him from the stage his satirist’s eye and comic spirit. His goal, which had also been the goal of the Augustan satirists (such as Dryden, Pope, and Swift) since before the turn of the eighteenth century, was not to expose one pitiful Wretch, to the small and contemptible Circle of his Acquaintance; but to hold the Glass [mirror] to thousands in their Closets, that they may contemplate their Deformity, and endeavour to reduce it, and thus by suffering private Mortification may avoid public Shame. (JA, 3.1) To that end, he developed his “comic Epic-Poem in Prose,” defined in his famous Preface to Joseph Andrews. Those “thousands in their Closets” were, of course, his readers, recognizing aspects of themselves in the “Deformity” found in characters such as Fielding’s uncharitable Mrs. Tow-wouse or Parson Trulliber. With the guidance of the narrator and his protagonists Abraham Adams and Joseph Andrews, the reader was to recognize his or her own moral “deformity” and work to become more “good-natur’d.”