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A Critique On Henry Fielding As The First Novelist Of English Language

2117 words - 8 pages

About Henry Fielding:Henry Fielding was born in Sharpham Park, Somerset, England, on April 22, 1707, and died in Lisbon on 8th October 1754. He was a great novelist and a playwright. His contribution to the Novel as a form of expression has been fundamental, and he is therefore known as the founder of English Novel. His major works in the field of Novel include Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones.Biography: Life before NovelFielding belonged to a distinguished family. Henry's father, Col. Edmund Fielding, had served under John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, an early 18th-century general, "with much bravery and reputation." His mother was a daughter of Sir Henry Gould, a judge of the Queen's Bench, from whom she inherited property at East Stour, in Dorset, where Fielding spent some of his childhood. Fielding was quite young, only eleven years old, when his mother died. His father married again, and Fielding was sent to Eton College, where he laid the foundations of his love of literature and his considerable knowledge of the classics. After his studies, he spent some years in leisure, before he went to the University of Leiden in Holland for further studies. However, he had to unfortunatelt return from the university without completing his studies because his father could not pay his allowance and the university expenses any more.After coming back, he soon started writing plays. It is believed that in all, he wrote some 25 plays. Although his dramatic works have not held the stage, their wit cannot be denied. He was essentially a satirist, and his target was the political corruption of the times. His plays were quite superior in quality and content, and Bernard Shaw interesting commented that Fielding was "the greatest dramatist, with the single exception of Shakespeare, produced in England between the Middle Ages and the nineteenth century."1 In 1737 he produced at the Little Theatre in the Hay (later the Haymarket Theatre), London, his Historical Register, For the Year 1736, in which the prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole, was represented practically undisguised and mercilessly ridiculed. It was not the first time Walpole had suffered from Fielding's pen, and his answer was to push through Parliament the Licensing Act, by which all new plays had to be approved and licensed by the lord chamberlain before production. The passing of this act marked the end of Fielding's career as a playwright.Later on he spent some time editing, and very largely writing, a thrice-weekly newspaper, the Champion; or, British Mercury, which ran from November 1739 to June 1741. During this time it is said that he was studying for bar, and he eventually became a Barrister.Emergence of the Novel:The development of Novel as a new generic form in literature is certainly one of the most important features of the eighteenth century in terms of literary history. Critics differ over which novel qualifies to be called the first novel of english literature, but the general consensus...

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