Presentation on theme: "Fielding's “Preface to Joseph Andrews” “It may not be improper to premise a few words concerning this kind of writing [the novel], which I do not remember."— Presentation transcript:
Fielding's “Preface to Joseph Andrews” “It may not be improper to premise a few words concerning this kind of writing [the novel], which I do not remember to have seen hitherto attempted in our language. ”
Begins in the safety of antiquity. The EPIC, as well as the DRAMA, is divided into tragedy and comedy. Homer wrote both but his example of the latter is lost. As this poetry may be tragic or comic, I will not scruple to say it may be likewise either in verse or prose: For though it wants one particular, which the critic enumerates in the constituent parts of an epic poem, namely metre; yet, when any kind of writing contains all its other parts, such as fable, action, characters, sentiments, and diction, and is deficient in metre only, it seems, I think, reasonable to refer it to the epic; at least, as no critic hath thought proper to range it under any other head, or to assign it a particular name to itself.
A comic-romance is a comic epic- poem in prose; differing from comedy, as the serious epic from tragedy. Its action being more extended and comprehensive; containing a much larger circle of incidents, and introducing a greater variety of characters. It differs from the serious romance in its fable and action, in this; that as in the one these are grave and solemn, so in the other they are light and ridiculous: It differs in its characters by introducing persons of inferior rank, and consequently, of inferior manners, whereas the grave romance sets the highest before us:
lastly, in its sentiments and diction, by preserving the ludicrous instead of the sublime. In the diction, I think, burlesque itself may be sometimes admitted; of which many instances will occur in this work [Joseph Andrews], as in the description of the battles, and some other places, not necessary to be pointed out to the classical reader, for whose entertainment those parodies or burlesque imitations are chiefly calculated. But though we have sometimes admitted this in our diction, we have carefully excluded it from our sentiments and characters; for there it is never properly introduced, unless in writings of the burlesque kind, which this is not intended to be. Indeed, no two species of writing can differ more widely than the comic and the burlesque;
The Comic and the Burlesque As the latter (Burlesque) is ever the exhibition of what is monstrous and unnatural, and where our delight, if we examine it, arises from the surprising absurdity, as in appropriating the manners of the highest to the lowest, or e converso; ( On the other side or hand; on the contrary ). So in the former, we should ever confine ourselves strictly to nature, from the just imitation of which will flow all the pleasure we can this way convey to a sensible reader. And perhaps there is one reason why a comic writer should of all others be the least excused for deviating from nature, since it may not be always so easy for a serious poet to meet with the great and admirable; but life everywhere furnishes an accurate observer with the ridiculous.
The Value of Burlesque Lord Shaftesbury: "There is no such thing to be found in the writings of the ancients." But perhaps I [Fielding] have less abhorrence than he professes for it; and that, not because I have had some little success on the stage this way, but rather as it contributes more to exquisite mirth and laughter than any other; and these are probably more wholesome physic for the mind, and conduce better to purge away spleen, melancholy, and ill affections, than is generally imagined. Nay, I will appeal to common observation, whether the same companies are not found more full of good-humour and benevolence, after they have been sweetened for two or three hours with entertainments of this kind, than when soured by a tragedy or a grave lecture
Caricature Against Nature Whereas in the Caricatura we allow all license. Its aim is to exhibit monsters, not men; and all distortions and exaggerations whatever are within its proper province. Now, what Caricatura is in painting, Burlesque is in writing; and in the same manner the comic writer and painter correlate to each other. And here I shall observe, that as in the former the painter seems to have the advantage, so it is in the later infinitely on the side of the writer; for the Monstrous is much easier to paint than describe, and the Ridiculous to describe than paint.
He who should call the ingenious Hogarth a burlesque painter, would in my opinion do him very little honour; for sure it is much easier, much less the subject of admiration, to paint a man with a nose, or any other feature, of a preposterous size, or to expose him in some absurd or monstrous attitude, than to express the affections of men on canvas. It hath been thought a vast commendation of a painter, to say his figures seem to breathe; but surely it is a much greater and nobler applause, that they appear to think.
MONSTROUS CRAWS, at a New Coalition Feast (The King, Queen, and Prince of Wales sit around a bowl of guineas and ladle coins into their mouths. -- Etching with aquatint by James Gillray; published May 29, 1787)
Hogarth’s Comedy The Laughing Audience, 1733 The etching portrays a theatre audience. In the foreground we see the heads of three orchestra performers, all earnestly playing their instruments. Behind them is the pit where commoners are genuinely enjoying the comic drama. Only one sour faced gentleman appears not to be enjoying the performance. He is probably a critic. Above them is a private box for the upper classes. Two foppish gentlemen occupy this area and are in pursuit of love's pleasures. One makes advances to an orange girl while the other is becoming most amorous to a lady. Neither is paying any attention to the drama.
Marriage à-la-mode William Hogarth (1743–1745) painted the six pictures of Marriage à-la-mode now located in the National Gallery, London) They are a pointed skewering of upper class 18th century society. This moralistic warning shows the disastrous results of an ill-considered marriage for money. This is regarded by many as his finest project, certainly the best example of his serially- planned story cycles.
The Marriage Settlement Major Characters: –Earl/Lord Squanderfield –The man facing out the window, with his back to the scene. –The man standing at the table—a lawyer –The Alderman — Seated, facing the Earl –Counselor Silvertongue — Standing, next to the bride –The bride — Seated, next to the Viscount –Viscount Squanderfield, the son of the Earl — Seated, on the far left The plot of the painting is the unmitigated greed of the two fathers, the Alderman and Earl. The Alderman is wealthy to excess and the Earl bankrupt or nearly so, however he still retains his ancient title. The Alderman is desirous of becoming the grandfather to a noble son, and the Earl wants to ensure his line is carried on, and is willing to put up with the common Alderman for the sake of his money. Meanwhile, the soon to be married two are completely ignoring each other, and the bride is being courted by the lawyer present for some reason. Meanwhile, myriad details show the true natures of characters present, especially the Earl and his son.
The Tête à Tête Major Characters: –The Viscount — Seated, on the right –The Countess — Seated, across from her husband –The Methodist servant — Walking out –The other servant — In the other room The two are totally disinterested in each other and the marriage, not to mention the household, is rapidly becoming untenable. Details: The clock on the right shows the time as 1:20. Commentators are undecided whether this is late at night or the afternoon but in either case, the implications are equally damning: –If it's 1:20 in the morning, the house has clearly been the scene of a wild and debauched party, while the Viscount has been out till all hours and neither are interested in each other. –If 1:20 in the afternoon, whatever occurred the night before hasn't been cleaned up, the servants are just barely waking up, the candles were left burning all night and into the day (Including the one that is about to set the chair next to the waiter on fire), and the couple has only recently risen.
The Inspection The Viscount, suffering from syphilis, makes a visit to a French doctor. –A black patch on the Viscount’s neck is Hogarth's device for signifying the Viscount is suffering from syphilis. –The taller woman is opening a clasp knife and is turning away from the Viscount who she clearly dislikes. Commentators variously identify her as the child's mother, the doctor's assistant or another prostitute. If she were the child's mother, Hogarth would have almost certainly placed mother and child together. –The cabinet on the left has shelves crammed with apothecary's pots and a wolf's head on the top. On the left wall are two paintings of monsters: one is a man with his head below his shoulders underneath two mummies, and the other of a two headed hermaphrodite. –The cabinet against the rear wall has a door ajar revealing a skeleton suggestively leaning against an embalmed body. There is also a long wig on a plaster head.
–Fixed to the wall and on top of the cabinet, from left to right, there are: a narwal tusk (a classic phallic symbol), a pile of pill boxes, a bleeding basin (identified because of its scalloped side), a glass urinal, a giant plaster head with a huge femur behind, an alchemist's tripod for holding flasks over burners (or a gallows tree), a broken mediaevial comb, a tall red Jacobean hat, two mismatched mediaeval shoes, a spur buckler and a sword and shield. –On the ceiling is a stuffed crocodile with a large ostrich egg hanging from it. –The extremely complicated mechanical contraptions on the right are identified by the inscription on the open book, as being for setting a dislocated shoulder and drawing corks out of wine bottles. An additional inscription on the book reads, "Inspected and approved by the Royal Academy at Paris," Hogarth emphasizing the ignorance of the French and their scant knowledge of medicine.
The Toilette The old Earl has died and the son is now the new Earl and his wife, the Countess. As was the very height of fashion at the time, the Countess is holding a "Toilette", or reception, in her bedroom –The coronet over the bed and over the dressing table mirror indicate that the old Earl has died and the son is now Earl Squanderfield. The wife is now Countess Squanderfield. –The lawyer Silvertongue is lounging on the sofa, with his shoes off and his feet up. He clearly feels at home and in familiar surroundings. –Although there are other guests in the room, the Countess has her back to them, totally absorbed by Silvertongue. –Silvertongue is making an assignation with the Countess, showing her a ticket to a masquerade and pointing to a painting of a masquerade on a screen behind the sofa. The intention being that, as the guests will be wearing masks and therefore unidentifiable, the Countess and Silvertongue can safely attend together. –The Countess is now a mother as, hanging on the back of her chair, is a rope of coral, used by teething children. However, the child is not in the picture, suggesting a lack of maternal instinct. –The book on the sofa by Silvertongue's feet is "Sopha", the licentious and popular novel by Crébillon –A Swiss valet-de-chambre is attending to the Countess's hair.
–On the left there is an opera singer, based upon either Giovanni Carestini or possibly Farrinelli, both celebrated Italian castrato opera singers. –The flutist is based upon Weideman, a well known flutist of the time and music-teacher to George III. –The gentleman in Blue has curl papers in his hair. He is based upon Herr Michel, the Prussian Envoy. –The lady in white is overcome by music and singing. She is based upon Mrs Lane-Fox, later Lady Bingley, who was known to have a passion for Italian music. –The two Old Master paintings on the right wall show 'Lot and his Daughters', a Biblical reference to incest, and 'Jupiter and Io' (after Correggio), a mythological reference to seduction. –The lower picture on the left wall is another Old Master, 'Rape of Ganymede' (after Michelangelo), a mythological reference to homosexual seduction. –The upper left painting is the lawyer himself, Silvertongue. Clearly, the new Earl has not visited his wife's bedroom for a long time.
–The black page boy in the bottom right corner is examining a collection of hideous ornaments (similar to those on the mantelpiece in the second painting), purchased at the sale of Timothy Babyhouse, Esquire. He points to the horns on a statue of Actaeon, with an impish grin: he know what the lady of the house has been up to (horns are a symbol of cuckoldry). –Scattered on the floor on the left are a number of invitations: "Lady Squader's company is desired at Lady Townly's drum next Monday;" "Lady Squander's company is desired at Lady Heatham's drum-major next Sunday" and "Lady Squander's company is desired at Miss Hairbrain's rout," (Hogarth making a joke with the sequence "drum," "drum-major" and "rout"). There is also a note, "Count Basset begs to no how Lade Squander sleapt last nit.
The Bagnio The new Earl catches his wife with her lover, Silvertongue, and is fatally wounded by the scoundrel who makes his escape through the window. This episode takes place in the Turk's Head Bagnio in Bow Street, Covent Garden, identified by a bill on the floor by the upturned table on the left. The Turk's Head actually existed and was kept by a Mrs Earl. "Bagnio" was originally a word used to describe a coffee house which offered Turkish baths, but by Hogarth's time it signified a place where rooms could be taken for the night with no questions asked.
Fielding’s Assertions About Comedy Aristotle, the great classic source, maintains “that villainy is not its object.” –In other words the comic should not attempt to do harm. (which satire does) The only source of the true Ridiculous (as it appears to me) is affectation—this springs from two major sources: vanity or hypocrisy. –for as vanity puts us on affecting false characters, in order to purchase applause; so hypocrisy sets us on an endeavor to avoid censure, by concealing our vices under an appearance of their opposite virtues.
Hypocrisy the affectation which arises from vanity is nearer to truth than the other, as it hath not that violent repugnancy of nature to struggle with...it [vanity] partakes of the nature of ostentation: In short a person who is guilty of this affectation is less repugnant since he or she would actually be what they pretend they are. Vanity Hypocrisy is a more stressful act since it struggles against the very nature of the individual.
Now, from affectation only, the misfortunes and calamities of life, or the imperfections of nature, may become the objects of ridicule. –Surely he hath a very illframed mind who can look on ugliness, infirmity, or poverty, as ridiculous in themselves: nor do I believe any man living, who meets a dirty fellow riding through the streets in a cart, is struck with an idea of the Ridiculous from it; –but if he should see the same figure descend from his coach and six, or bolt from his chair with his hat under his arm, he would then begin to laugh, and with justice. –In the same manner, were we to enter a poor house and behold a wretched family shivering with cold and languishing with hunger, it would not incline us to laughter ( at least we must have very diabolical natures if it would); but should we discover there a grate, instead of coals, adorned with flowers, empty plate or china dishes on the sideboard, or any other affectation of riches and finery either on their persons or in their furniture, we might then indeed be excused for ridiculing so fantastical an appearance. –Much less are natural imperfections the object of derision; but when ugliness aims at the applause of beauty, or lameness endeavours to display agility, it is then that these unfortunate circumstances, which at first moved our compassion, tend only to raise our mirth. The poet carries this very far: None are for being what they are in fault, But for not being what they would be thought.