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Synopsis

The first novel of English magistrate Henry Fielding, "Joseph Andrews" was written in 1742 as a complete extension of the author's pamphlet "Shamela." The latter contains an impressively coarse parody of "Pamela," the Samuel Richardson novel that rewards a servant girl with marriage for protecting her virtue. Shamela, however, utilizes a coy and artificial modesty to procure for herself a husband of wealth. Fielding went on to write "Joseph Andrews," a work relating the adventures of a footboy after he is dismissed from his employment. He rejects the advances of the lady of the house, and his life after losing his position begins a journey filled with crime, poverty, and varying types of maliciousness, as well as uplifting comedy and love in many forms. This experimental novel, however, grows out of its original parody, for it objects as much to the mechanics as of the limited ideas of the literature of its day. "Joseph Andrews" not only reveals the corruption of Fielding's contemporary society, but it does so in a prose fiction that is as sophisticated as it is satirical.

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