Two Masters more: Fielding and Sterne

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1 ni Ma rco de gli St ud ig ug lie l mo Two Masters more: Fielding and Sterne it what i is i impossible i ibl we should h ld know k h sort off person thou wilt be[ ]. Tom Jones, book X, ch.i Un iv er si tà Reader, R d 1

2 Henry Fielding Novel Laurence Sterne Anti-novel Topics Goals Understanding the new idea of novel established by the end of the XVIII century. Focusing on the role of writers and their attitude towards creative writing. Commenting on the writers attitude: Features Themes Society The role of the reader 2

3 Henry Fielding Henry Fielding (Sharpham, 22 April 1707 Lisbon, 8 October 1754) was an English novelist and dramatist. rich humour satirical style Aristocratic family Henry Fielding Fielding was educated at Eton College > lifelong friendship with William Pitt the Elder. Then he studied law at the University of Leiden (Germany). He finally moved to London > beginning of his literary career: writing for the theatre > savagely critical of the contemporary government under Sir Robert Walpole. 3

4 Henry Fielding 1737 > Theatrical Licensing Act > a direct result of his activities. The particular play that triggered the Licensing Act was The Golden Rump, but Fielding's satires had set the tone. political satire on the stage was virtually impossible playwrights whose works were staged were viewed as suspect. Fielding retired from the theatre > he resumed his career in law and became a barrister, in order to support his wife Charlotte Cradock and two children (1740). Henry Fielding Fielding never stopped writing political satire and satires of current arts and letters > The Tragedy of Tragedies of Tom Thumb quite successful as a printed play > Hogarth designed the frontispiece > the play burlesqued heroic tragedy. late 1730s and early 1740s > he contributed a number of works to journals of the day > satirical articles and newspapers > liberal and anti-jacobite views. He wrote for Tory periodicals, usually under the name of "Captain Hercules Vinegar (The Champion, The True Patriot) 4

5 Henry Fielding 1741 > Almost by chance, in anger at the success of Samuel Richardson's Pamela, Fielding wrote his first major success: Shamela, an anonymous parody of Richardson's melodramatic novel. Disgusted buy the sham morality, the hypocrisy and ambiguity of Pamela. Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews, in which the many notorious Falsehoods and Misrepresentations of a Book called Pamela Are exposed and refuted, and all the matchless Arts of that young Politician set in a true and just Light [ ] Necessary to be had in all Families. satire that follows the model of the famous Tory satirists of the previous generation (Jonathan Swift and John Gay, in particular) > epistolary form. Henry Fielding 1742 > Joseph Andrews > an original work supposedly dealing with Pamela's brother, Joseph. Begun as a parody, the work then developed into an accomplished novel in its own right > it marks Fielding's debut as a serious novelist. Fielding realized the possibilities implicit in the new literary genre of prose epic novel > scientific approach > he defined what he wanted to write and how. a few words concerning this kind of Writing > long preface to the book The book contains all the constituent elements of the old classical epic poems, but they are seen in a different perspective > satire of society. 5

6 Henry Fielding 1743 > TheHistoryoftheLifeoftheLateMrJonathanWild the Great > published in the Miscellanies volume III. ThesamestoryhadbeenwrittenbyDefoe>Fieldingis more narrative. satire of Walpole > it draws a parallel between Walpole and Jonathan Wild, an infamous gang leader and highwayman hanged in 1725, described in a mock-heroic way as a hero who brilliantly ends a successful career on the scaffold. Fielding implicitly i l comparesthe Whig party in Parliament with a gang of thieves being run by Walpole, whose constant desire to be a "Great Man" (a common epithet for Walpole) should culminate only in the antithesis of greatness: being hanged. Henry Fielding 1746 > The Female Husband > published anonymously > a fictionalized account of a notorious case in which a female transvestite was tried for duping another woman into marriage. It shows Fielding's ongoing preoccupation with fraud, sham, and masks > Tom Jones > his greatest work, published under Fielding s real name > a meticulously constructed picaresque novel telling the convoluted and hilarious tale of how a foundling came into a fortune and married the woman he loved. 6

7 Henry Fielding > His consistent anti-jacobitism and support for the Church of England led to him being rewarded with the position of London's Chief Magistrate, and his literary career went from strength to strength. He founded London's first police force, the Bow Street Runners (together with his younger half-brother John) They were two of the best magistrates in eighteenthcentury London > they enhanced the cause of judicial reform and improved prison conditions. Fielding s influential pamphlets and enquiries included a proposal for the abolition of public hangings. Henry Fielding January-November 1752 > Fielding started The Covent- Garden Journal > a biweekly periodical published under the pseudonym of "Sir Alexander Drawcansir, Knt. Censor of Great Britain". Fielding directly challenged the "armies of Grub Street" and the contemporary periodical writers of the day > the Paper War of

8 Henry Fielding Rapid deterioration in his health > 1754 > he went abroad to Portugal in search of a cure. Gout, asthma and other afflictions meant that he had to use crutches. He died in Lisbon two months after his arrival. Henry Fielding New position in terms of prose fiction > no effort to disguise literary devices. He was the first major novelist to openly admit that his prose fiction was pure artifice. wider range of characters taken from all social classes (Cfr. Richardson). lack of psychological realism (i.e. the feelings and emotions of his characters are rarely explored in any depth) concern to reveal the universal order of things > character is something the individual is blessed with at birth, a part of life's natural order or pattern > neoclassical outlook. 8

9 Henry Fielding According to Wolfgang Iser the reader of Tom Jones or Joseph Andrews is encouraged by the author-narrator to help constitute the meaning of the novel: The reader must fill the gaps voluntarily left by the author to be supplied with the reader s imagination. Though, the same imagination is evoked and guided by the words and the ideas expressed in the book The reader is anyway forced to adopt a proactive position, contributing actively to the full development of the story Prose main features: Henry Fielding No longer a simple sequence of events > episodes combined in a well organized organic unit. Setting: streets, highways, itineraries (no longer interiors) Large range of characters > middle-class people, lower classes > they afford the greatest diversity and the greatest opportunity for the truly comic (T.J., book XIV, ch. I) No individual analysis > not men but manners, not an individual, but a species. (J.A., book III, ch. I) Realistic picture of XVIII c. life No Puritan punishment > sexual instinct is not immoral, but controlled and directed to the good. No exaggerated sentimentalism. Social denunciation carried out through the characters personal experiences. Witty irony (sometimes coarse). 9

10 Henry Fielding New concept of fiction (not already novel but history) Faithful presentation of the life of the time. Distant from vulgar romances. Asserted over and over again in Tom Jones >prefaces to the various books containing the author s viewpoint. Laurence Sterne Laurence Sterne (24November March1768)>Irishborn English novelist and an Anglican clergyman. He is best known for his novels: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy He also published sermons, wrote memoirs, and was involved in local politics. 10

11 Laurence Sterne SonofanEnglishArmyofficer. The first decade of his life was spent moving from place to place as his father was reassigned throughout Ireland. Sterne seems to have been destined to become a clergyman > he was ordained as a deacon in March 1737 and as a priest in August Shortly thereafter he was awarded the vicarship living of Sutton-on-the-Forest in Yorkshire ( ) 1768). Laurence Sterne 1741 > Sterne married Elizabeth Lumley. Both were ill with consumption > Sterne wrote political articles supporting the administration of Sir Robert Walpole for a newspaper founded by his uncle. he soon withdrew from politics in disgust. His uncle became his archenemy, thwarting his advancement whenever possible. 11

12 Laurence Sterne Sterne lived in Sutton for twenty years Deep intimacy (begun at Cambridge) with Stevenson, a witty and accomplished bon vivant, owner of Skelton Hall in the Cleveland district of Yorkshire. They founded a group called The Demoniacks Without this influence, Sterne might have been a more decorous parish priest, but then might never have written Tristram Shandy (1759) > A Political Romance (later called The History of a Good Warm Watch-Coat) > wrote in support of his dean in a church squabble > Swiftian satire of dignitaries of the spiritual courts. At the demands of embarrassed churchmen, the book was burned. Sterne lost his chances for clerical advancement but discovered his real talents Laurence Sterne At the age of 46, he turned over his parishes to a curate > dedicated himself entirely to humour writing for the rest of his life. He began Tristram Shandy. An initial, sharply satiric version was rejected by Robert Dodsley, a London printer. Family problems: His mother and uncle both died. His wife had a nervous breakdown and threatened suicide. 12

13 Laurence Sterne Sterne continued his comic novel, but every sentence, he said, was written under the greatest heaviness of heart. He softened the satire and told about Tristram's opinions, his eccentric family, and ill-fated childhood with a sympathetic humour, sometimes hilarious, sometimes sweetly melancholic > comedy skirting tragedy He became famous throughout Europe. Translations of the work began to appear in all the major European languages. Laurence Sterne He influenced European writers as Diderot and the German Romanticists. The book was largely dismissed in England as being too corrupt. Samuel Johnson (1776) > "Nothing odd will do long. Tristram Shandy did not last." European critics of the day and later on, on the contrary, praised Sterne and Tristram Shandy as innovative and superior. Voltaire > "clearly superior to Rabelais. Goethe > praised Sterne as "the most beautiful spirit that ever lived." 13

14 Laurence Sterne 1762 > struggling with his illness, Sterne departed England for France to find a climate that would alleviate his suffering. Luckily attached himself to a diplomatic party bound for Turin > England and France were still adversaries in the Seven Years' War. Sterne was gratified by his reception in France >Tristram Shandy had made him a celebrity > back in England, he left his wife and daughter in France He fell in love with Eliza Draper > Journal to Eliza (posthumous, 1775) Laurence Sterne A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy > Sterne s second novel > published at the beginning of 1768 > Sterne was increasingly ill and weak (the which allowed no much writing on Italy). Translated into Italian (re-written) by U. Foscolo. Less than a month after Sentimental Journey was published, early in 1768, Sterne's died in his lodgings in London. 14

15 Laurence Sterne 9 volumes, published over a decade > the book ends without anything that might be considered a traditional conclusion. Influences of Rabelais and Cervantes. Main features: First-person narrator, remembering significant people and episodes of his own life. a rambling and eccentric patchwork of anecdotes, digressions, reflections, jests, parodies and dialogues. (D. Daiches) New technique applied to old elements. Laurence Sterne Picaresque form: patchwork of episodes; sense of chance. Mock-heroic treatment of subjects (Tristam s birth). High and low characters. Biographical structure of the novel. Manipulation of narrative time and voice. ruled by the individual consciousness (see Bergson two centuries later on). Each person lives moments and experiences which cannot be measured in fixed periods of time. the mind has its own time and space, apart from the conventional ones. No chronological order of events. Not facts, but emotional implications of facts. hobbyhorses > idiosyncrasies, obsessions, ruling passions of each character. 15

16 Laurence Sterne Parody of accepted narrative form > bawdy" humour. Insertion of sermons, essays and legal documents into the pages of the novel. Exploring the limits of typography and print design: marbled pages an entirely black page within the narrative. The reader has to complete the ideas expressed in the book, e.g. by drawing the characters his own way Innovations > adaptations in form that should be understood as an exploration of what constitutes the novel. highly influential to Modernist writers like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf Laurence Sterne Rabelais > Sterne's favourite author He considered himself as Rabelais' successor in humor writing, and instead distanced himself from Jonathan Swift (see his correspondence): I... deny I have gone as far as Swift: he keeps a due distance from Rabelais; I keep a due distance from him. (quoted in W. L. Cross, Life and Times of Sterne, New York, 1909, ch. VIII, p. 179) 16

17 Bibliography and web-sites F. Ruggieri (ed.), L età di Johnson. La letteratura inglese del secondo Settecento, Carocci, L. Cerny, Reader Participation and Rationalism in Fielding's Tom Jones, Connotations 2.2 (1992), pp [http://www.unituebingen.de/uni/nec/cerny22.htm] W. L. Cross, Life and Times of Sterne, New York, 1909 D. Daiches, A Critical History of English Literature, London, 1975 W. Iser, The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett (1972; Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1974) M. New, Laurence Sterne as Satirist: A Reading of Tristram Shandy (1969) Conclusions Both authors move among different themes and types of prose, which they are able to effectively intermingling onto their works. They manage to paint a witty picture of contemporary society, most times through an intelligent use of irony. Intellectual mission towards society and themselves. Fiction is explicitly declared. Irony and satire > the reader becomes an active part in the book > self consciousness + social consciousness. 17

18 Copyright AVVISO - Ai sensi dell'art. 1, comma 1 del decreto-legge 22 marzo 2004, n. 72, come modificato dalla legge di conversione 21 maggio 2004 n. 128, le opere presenti su questo sito hanno assolto gli obblighi derivanti dalla normativa sul diritto dautore d'autore e sui diritti connessi. Tutti i contenuti sono proprietà letteraria riservata e protetti dal diritto di autore della Università degli Studi Guglielmo Marconi. Si ricorda che il materiale didattico fornito è per uso personale degli studenti, al solo scopo didattico. Per ogni diverso utilizzo saranno applicate le sanzioni previste dalla legge 22 aprile 1941, n Copyright UNIMARCONI 18

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