Read Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding Free Online
Book Title: Joseph Andrews|
The author of the book: Henry Fielding
Edition: The Modern Library
Date of issue: 1939
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 1.52 MB
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Loaded: 1084 times
Reader ratings: 5.1
ISBN: No data
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Yesterday I had a small insight concerning my impressions of Joseph Andrews: when I picture Joseph and his friend Parson Adams traveling the English countryside, the weather is always clear, the sunlight a welcoming gold. Yet when I see Don Quixote and Sancho Panza on their similar journey through Spain, the sun looks thinner and sharper, above all less forgiving. This is all the more remarkable when I consider that 1) Joseph ends the first day his journey in a punishing hailstorm, and 2) everybody—even the sparsely traveled me—knows England has fewer sunny days than Spain.
I am sure this is because the world Fielding creates brings with it the impression of an hospitable sun. Cervantes loves his two main characters, but they are eccentrics easily duped by people who delight in the pair's delusions. and both are saddened and reduced by the end of their adventures. The three main characters of Fielding's novel, on the other hand, the two honest young people Joseph and Fanny and their naive friend, Parson Adams (perfect embodiment of the book's sunniness), each endure hardships which make them wiser, but they remain whole and healthy at book's end. The thoroughly evil people are few (Joseph's robbers, Fanny's would-be abductors), whereas the others who do evil (Lady Booby, Madame Slipslop, Lawyer Scout) are motivated by fits of passion and a policy of self interest, qualities that sometimes work against our heroes, but sometimes work for them too. Somehow—under the beneficent sun—everything turns out right in the end.
There are many reasons I love this book—the welcome intrusions by the sensible narrator, the mock-heroic language of its “epic battles,” the good natured bawdy of its most risque passages, its central message that “virtue” is the will to do good, not the jealous guarding of a sexual commodity—but more than anything I love its genial English country atmosphere, with a friendly sun shining upon all.
The following version of “The Good Samaritan” from Book I, Chapter 12 is an excellent example of how the battle between pettiness and self-interest (plus one small genuinely good act) saves poor Joseph, after he has been beaten and robbed and left by the side of the road:
The postillion hearing a man's groans, stopt his horses, and told the coachman, he was certain there was a dead man lying in the ditch, for he heard him groan. "Go on, sirrah," says the coachman; "we are confounded late, and have no time to look after dead men." A lady, who heard what the postillion said, and likewise heard the groan, called eagerly to the coachman to stop and see what was the matter. Upon which he bid the postillion alight, and look into the ditch. He did so, and returned, "that there was a man sitting upright, as naked as ever he was born." — "0 J — sus!" cried the lady; "a naked man! Dear coachman, drive on and leave him." Upon this the gentlemen got out of the coach; and Joseph begged them to have mercy upon him: for that he had been robbed and almost beaten to death. “Robbed !” cries an old gentleman: "let us make all the haste imaginable,or we shall be robbed too." A young man who belonged to the law answered, "He wished they had passed by without taking any notice; but that now they might be proved to have been last in his company; if he should die they might be called to some account for his murder. He therefore thought it advisable to save the poor creature's life, for their own sakes, if possible; at least, if he died, to prevent the jury's finding that they fled for it. He was therefore of opinion to take the man into the coach, and carry him to the next inn." The lady insisted, "That he should not come into the coach. That if they lifted him in, she would herself alight: for she had rather stay in that place to all eternity than ride with a naked man." The coachman objected, "That he could not suffer him to be taken in unless somebody would pay a shilling for his carriage the four miles." Which the two gentlemen refused to do. But the lawyer, who was afraid of some mischief happening to himself, if the wretch was left behind in that condition, saying no man could be too cautious in these matters, and that he remembered very extraordinary cases in the books, threatened the coachman, and bid him deny taking him up at his peril; for that, if he died, he should be indicted for his murder; and if he lived, and brought an action against him, he would willingly take a brief in it. These words had a sensible effect on the coachman, who was well acquainted with the person who spoke them; and the old gentleman above mentioned, thinking the naked man would afford him frequent opportunities of showing his wit to the lady, offered to join with the company in giving a mug of beer for his fare; till, partly alarmed by the threats of the one, and partly by the promises of the other, and being perhaps a little moved with compassion at the poor creature's condition, who stood bleeding and shivering with the cold, he at length agreed; and Joseph was now advancing to the coach, where, seeing the lady, who held the sticks of her fan before her eyes, he absolutely refused, miserable as he was, to enter, unless he was furnished with sufficient covering to prevent giving the least offence to decency — so perfectly modest was this young man...
Though there were several greatcoats about the coach, it was not easy to get over this difficulty which Joseph had started. The two gentlemen complained they were cold, and could not spare a rag; the man of wit saying, with a laugh, that charity began at home; and the coachman, who had two greatcoats spread under him, refused to lend either, lest they should be made bloody: the lady's footman desired to be excused for the same reason, which the lady herself, notwithstanding her abhorrence of a naked man, approved: and it is more than probable poor Joseph, who obstinately adhered to his modest resolution, must have perished, unless the postillion (a lad who hath been since transported for robbing a hen-roost) had voluntarily stript off a greatcoat, his only garment, at the same time swearing a great oath (for which he was rebuked by the passengers), "that he would rather ride in his shirt all his life than suffer a fellow-creature to lie in so miserable a condition."
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Read information about the authorHenry Fielding was born in Somerset in 1707. The son of an army lieutenant and a judge's daughter, he was educated at Eton School and the University of Leiden before returning to England where he wrote a series of farces, operas and light comedies.
Fielding formed his own company and was running the Little Theatre, Haymarket, when one of his satirical plays began to upset the government. The passing of the Theatrical Licensing Act in 1737 effectively ended Fielding's career as a playwright.
In 1739 Fielding turned to journalism and became editor of The Champion. He also began writing novels, including: The Adventures of Joseph Andrews (1742), Abraham Adams (1742) and Jonathan Wild (1743).
Fielding was made a justice of the peace for Westminster and Middlesex in 1748. He campaigned against legal corruption and helped his half-brother, Sir John Fielding, establish the Bow Street Runners.
In 1749 Fielding's novel, The History of Tom Jones was published to public acclaim. Critics agree that it is one of the greatest comic novels in the English language. Fielding followed this success with another well received novel, Amelia (1751).
Fielding continued as a journalist and his satirical journal, Covent Garden, continued to upset those in power. Throughout his life, Fielding suffered from poor health and by 1752 he could not move without the help of crutches. In an attempt to overcome his health problems, Henry Fielding went to live in Portugal but this was not successful and he died in Lisbon in 1754.
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