I already read through the Fielding novel I'm studying for my exams (Jonathan Wild
, which I heartily recommend for lols, hijinks, and social commentary—with an unexpected aside about the injustice of sexual double standards). I do want to commit some things about Fielding himself to memory, however, so some highlights of one of England's first great novelists:
His branch of the Fielding family were poor relations of the earls of Denbigh. The earls spelled the name Feilding, which Henry Fielding sneered at.
Henry Fielding sneered at a lot of things. Like the government. Specifically, Walpole's government.
More specifically, Fielding started his career as a dramatist, and became the greatest playwright of the day. He wrote burlesques, comedies, satires in the dozens, his plays growing more and more political and more harshly critical of the government, finally inspiring the Licensing Act of 1737, which made dramatic performances subject to governmental approval.
That's right: Fielding snarked at the government enough that the legislation to deal with him lasted for over TWO HUNDRED YEARS. It's impressive, in a depressing, silencing sort of way.
It did not, however, achieve the result of silencing Fielding! ( Read more... )