Thursday, October 8, 2009

October 8: Fielding's Parody Becomes History (Vol. 39, pp. 176-181)

One of the immutable rules of comedy is that if you have to explain what you are joking about, you're probably not doing it right.

Henry Fielding, who died this day in 1764, is given credit for writing one of the great parodies of English literature, "Joseph Andrews," the preface of which is today's selection.

Fielding was lampooning a novel by Samuel Richardson, "Pamela," which was about a virtuous maid-servant fighting off the advances of her young master. Fielding turned the story around to make it into a narrative about Pamela's brother Joseph, who resisted the advances of his mistress.

Again, a nice idea, but if you have to explain, it's not funny.

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