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Henry Fielding (1707-54)
Born in 1707 in Somerset in south-west England
Educated from Eton College
Moves to London (1726): dramatist Between 1729 and 1737 he wrote than twenty plays, mostly farces and political satire.
The Historical Register for 1736 Theatre Licensing Act (1737) introduces state censorship: end of his career as a dramatist
Starts working on Tom Jones (1746)
Magistrate: campaigns against legal corruption, proposes provisions for the poor and abolition of public hangings
Dies in Lisbon in 1754
Comic epic novel
A genre borrowing elements from classical epics and modern realistic novel
Mr. Allworthy had been absent a full quarter of a year in London, on some very particular business, though I know not what it was.
Fielding's intrusive narrator explores the differences between the conventions of classical literature and those of the modern "realist" novel
Through his notes, he "tells us how to read and see, and, ultimately, how to feel about things"
Introductory notes: Tom Jones is a "history"
INTRUSIVE NARRATOR: FIELDING’S APPROACH TO NOVEL
The approach to novel: Comic epic novel
Shamela (1741): just a parody
Joseph Andrews (1742): methodical approach to the genre
Prose epics: Fable, Action, Characters, Sentiments and Diction from classical epics
Differences from classical epics:
Fable and action: light and ridiculous
Characters: middle or inferior rank (and inferior manners)
"Comic": prose epics ridicule bad manners (affectation, hypocrisy, vanity...)
Free to steal
Dialogue between classical and modern narrative:
of rhetorical styles, scenes and stories from classical authors and other sources for comic purpose.
To sum up
Complex and well-knit combination of episodes
Streets and highways
Wide range of characters also from middle and inferior rank
Society at large
Genuine picture of 18th century life
Men is naturally inclined towards goodness
No exaggerated sentimentalism
Love is a strong,natural feeling
Wide range of characters
Indirect social denunciation
Fielding’s masterpiece (1749)
Tom Jones: "dramatic" structure
[…] good nature had always the ascendant in [Mr Allworthy's] mind. […] out of respect to him, and regard to decency, she had spent many minutes in adjusting her hair at the looking glass […].
CONTRAST: good and hypocrite characters
The treatment of characters
TYPES: psychologically static
Generous view of human nature and freedom
Realism and irony
British music between the 17th and the 18th century
Between the end of the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century, late baroque music is the most popular type of music in England
Important composers in this period are Henry Purcell, Thomas Arne and George Frederic Handel
Handel’s operas dominate the London stage for decades
The impresario John Gray opens Beggar’s Opera in 1728
In 1742 one of the most important Handel's compositions, Messiah, is premiered in Dublin
In 1749 Handel contributes to celebrations with Music for the Royal Fireworks
Bibliography and webliography
School text books