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Narrative and Narrator: An Analysis of Joseph Andrews

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Narrative and Narrator: An Analysis of Joseph Andrews

      As the novel was coalescing into a distinct form of literary expression, Henry Fielding introduced a dynamic relationship between the reader and the text by developing the role of the narrator and the narrator's responsibility in shaping the overall structure of the work. His narrative creation would become a tradition explored by modern writers. By establishing the narrator as an intermediary, the narrator was free to create and comment upon characters, actions, and situations. Fielding could conceal his ideas with metaphors and fictional examples as well as with the narrator himself.  Though some have criticized Fielding's work for lacking a definitive narrative goal, perhaps the more fruitful quest was and is in discovering the goal of the narrator (Goldberg 85). Through an understanding of the narrator of Joseph Andrews,  it may be possible to discern the goal of the narrator and, thus trace the early evolution of this tradition. 

            Fielding's narrator is an all-pervasive commentator and creator. Fielding forces the reader to engage his text as a text inextricably bound to the thoughts and perceptions of the author (Bartschi 53). The reader sees only what the narrator allows him or her to see. In this manner the narrator serves as a lens through which all events and characters are viewed. For example, the narrative structure of Joseph Andrews was consciously constructed as a reaction to and a refutation of the ethical system espoused in Richardson's novel Pamela. Fielding connects his novel directly to Richardson's fictional world, using such devices as Joseph's letters to Pamela. He revives the memory of these characters and events, however, ...

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Gossman, Lionel. "Literature and Society in the Early Enlightenment: The Case of Merivaux." Modern Language Notes, 82 (1967): 306-333.

Hazlitt, William. "A Perfect Piece of Statistics in its Kind." Lectures on the English Comic Writers, London, 1819. Works, ed. P.G. Howe (London: J.M. Dent, 1931) 6: 115.

McCrea, Brian. "Rewriting Pamela: Social Change and Religious Faith in Joseph Andrews." Studies in the Novel 16 (1984): 137-49. Rpt in Joseph Andrews: A Norton Critical Edition. Homer Goldberg, Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1987.

Sacks, Sheldon. Fiction and the Shape of Belief. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1964.

Taylor, Jr. Dick. "Joseph as Hero in Joseph Andrews." Tulane Studies in English 7 (1957): 91-109. Rpt in Joseph Andrews: A Norton Critical Edition. Homer Goldberg, Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1987.

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