Book #78: Joseph Andrews

Joseph Andrews was Henry Fielding’s first full-length novel. It was also one of the first English-language novels. 

The novel centers around a young servant and his adventures (and misadventures) as he makes his way home from London. Fielding’s forward says that he would like his readers to think of the work as an “comic epic poem in prose” and states that it is written in the style of Cervantes. 

It’s funny, at times. Joseph’s innocence and ignorance get him into trouble with women who like him, though he wants to remain chaste. Other digressions and crude humor typical of writing from the 1700s are also sprinkled into the text to keep things interesting.

I didn’t really care for Joseph Andrews, to be honest. I found myself skimming over most of it. It was reasonably well-written, and it I appreciated some of the humorous parts, but it felt a bit too much like a cliche. There’s the problem of unclear parentage, and there’s also (as always) an upcoming marriage. I know that Fielding was trying to parody the typical writing at the time, but it didn’t work all that well for me. 

I wanted to be amused. I wanted to laugh at Fielding’s making fun of cliches. When I first read summaries of Joseph Andrews, I expected to really enjoy it. But something, I’m not sure what, was missing. 

Rating: **
Up Next: The Poisonwood Bible


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