Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding (1742)

The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews, and of His Friend, Mr Abraham Andrews, written in Imitation of The Manner of Cervantes, Author of Don Quixote

The Preface picks up from Aristotle’s treatment of tragedy and epic in his Poetics. Fielding is concerned to discriminate between different types of ‘comedy’, as Aristotle promised to do but never did.

Fielding defines the comic romance as ‘a comic epic poem in prose’:

  • differing from comedy pure & simple as having a more extended action & set of characters
  • it differs from fable for that is serious & has characters of high rank, comedy invariably has characters of low rank, or who behave low-rankly
  • sometimes the burlesque is introduced which is the deliberate travesty of serious scenes

But his book is not burlesque: burlesque is a kind of caricature, the exhibition of what is monstrous & unnatural, our pleasure arising from absurdity (Tom Sharpe, maybe). Whereas the comic is always realistic. [In fact, burlesque can have a very good social effect: ‘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.’ And who could disagree with that?]

The difference between burlesque/caricature and comedy is the difference between the monstrous and the ridiculous. Typically, for his age, Fielding asserts ‘a more rational and useful pleasure arises to us from [comedy].’

So the subject of comedy is the ridiculous; and ‘the only source of the true ridiculous is affectation.’ And affectation springs from one of two sources: vanity or hypocrisy. From the revelation of affectation ‘arises the ridiculous – which always strikes the reader with surprise and pleasure.’

Great vices are the proper objects of our detestation, smaller vices of our pity: but affectation appears to me the only source of the ridiculous.

Theories of comedy

Ricky Gervaise on Front Row said he thinks the essence of comedy is Recognition: well, it is for his sort of comedy i.e. recognising the hideous behaviour of people in offices; and also for a lot of stand-up, which basically says, ‘Has this ever happened to you?’

But a lot of the comedy of The Office was also based on embarrassment – it’s well-proven that people laugh with embarrassment as a defence (from what? To deflect threats to their amour-propre, their ego?).

And I’ve always been partial to Bergson’s theory of Comedy as Mechanical: it makes us laugh to see people behaving repetitiously like machines: the predictability of comedy e.g. catchphrases – we laugh when Del-Boy calls Rodney a plonker, or Trigger calls him Dave – or when Captain Mainwaring says Stupid boy, or Jones says Don’t Panic, or Hugh Laurie says We’re doomed; or when Manuel is too stupid to understand what’s going on… again and again people behaving like robots.

Does Joseph Andrews live up to Fielding’s own theories?

Fielding then asks his good-hearted reader to judge his book by his precepts…

Well, I’m not sure it fits. Joseph Andrews works because of the continual good-tempered raillery or mild satire alive in every sentence – it is the good-humoured humour in every sentence. There is a steady stream of skewering of pretension – and this may have been Fielding’s conscious aim – but he neglects what is right under his nose – his own amused, detached, ironic tone. Not the (sometimes laboured) subject matter, it’s the relaxed charming tone which That’s what you take away from JA.

The unkindness of the Knight to Parson Adams, giving him a pitiful stipend, the casual rudeness of Lady Booby calling her country brethren ‘brutes’… and then a steady stream of mild satire as Parson Adams is shown having a naïve faith in people’s goodness, and the story of his failure to get anywhere in the world as highlighting the corruption of the world – but always with a smile.

Surely the truth is that comedy comes in various shapes & has multiple sources.

Richard Taflinger identifies incongruity as a key element in comedy: thus Lady Booby has a title but behaves like an ill-mannered barmaid.

Related is Bergson’s theory of the mechanical i.e. when people behave inflexibly and mechanically it is funny: this is the explanation for catchphrases, which become funnier with repetition. Why?

Similarly the kind of character from Ben Jonson thru Fielding to Dickens and beyond who is famous for one comic attribute: here Mrs Slipslop, monstrously ugly is funny a) because of affectation i.e. she thinks Joseph must fancy her; b) because she continually misuses long words; just like Mrs Malaprop in Sheridan’s The Rivals (1775) [did Sheridan steal her from Fielding?] or Mrs Gamp in Martin Chuzzlewit (1844).

The Plot

The plot itself is pitifully thin. Joseph is kicked out of service in London by Lady Booby & sets off back to the Booby’s rural seat to be reunited with his love, Fanny Goodlove. Pretty soon he encounters Parson Abraham Andrews, Abraham rescues Fanny from an attempted rape on a heath somewhere, and the next 300 pages consist of a sequence of episodes and encounters, generally in inns, with a gallery of 18th century stereotypes e.g. the violent host, the emollient host, the rural JP, rustics bickering over the reward for catching a thief, the vicar who pretends to know Greek but doesn’t recognise Aeschylus, the vicar who keeps pigs & a dairy farm (Parson Trulliber), Mr Wilson who tells the story of his life as a wastrel…

The point of almost every one of these encounters is the MORAL the narrator draws from them. Fielding is a highly didactic writer and the ‘plot’ exists solely for Fielding to present a series of sermons – tableauxvery much in the style of Hogarth.

What kind of novelist is Fielding?

Fielding is an external novelist: character is secondary to situations, which are contrived to skewer pretensions and assert Fielding’s Latitudinarian morality.

Moralising

Fielding aims to ‘describe men not manners’, and ‘hold the glass to thousands in their closets, that they may contemplate their deformity, and endeavour to reduce it, and thus by suffering private mortification may avoid public shame.’ The commonplace justification of all satirists throughout the ages, then, and boring. But, as I say, he misses his point, because it’s his civilised, affable tone which endures – not the often silly, satirical, 250-years-out-of-date incidents of the plot.

In our more abstemious, censorious times Richardson – who Fielding set out to satirise – has come back into critical favour. Also, because Pamela is more interior than anything which had preceded it, giving readers an unprecedented sustained insight into the psychological springs of a single character over hundreds of pages. Defoe’s books are written in the first person but you always have the sense that psychology is secondary to plot & events.

18th century life

comes across as stultifyingly boring. The lifestyle possibilities are extremely limited: rural idiocy or corruption in the biggest city in Europe. As Mr Wilson tells his life story it made me think he fell into immorality simply because there’s nothing else to do. The only escape from the narrow & predictable round of life is to go a-soldiering or a-sailoring… to see the world. In such a drab society no wonder a story like Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe caused such a sensation that he rushed out not one but two sequels.

Mr Wilson’s life story is off-putting because of the obviousness of the targets and the cheapness with which Fielding hits them. Women are coquettes; men are rakes; freethinkers are scoundrels; rich Lords are mean etc etc. By the end of the story Adams seems to have forgotten the bit where Wilson deliberately ravished and debauched an innocent girl who went on to beomce a prostitute and die in Newgate, instead reserving all his sympathy for Wilson himself, the wretch. Wilson is saved by a melodramatic reversal of fortune, i.e. a pure good woman bails him out of prison, he has all along loved her, they get married etc. This is a pretty tired theatrical cliché.

Fighting

It’s also notable how violent it is:

a) Violence Bad-tempered people are: There are continual assaults: the hare chasers who switch to attacking Adams & Andrews; the ducking of Adams; then the Squire’s hirelings & the Host attacking Adams & Andrews in the Inn, and carrying Fanny away…

b) Arguments The novel largely consists of Adams getting into arguments with people, often about almost nothing. Rarely do two people start talking without ending up fighting. E.g. he accepts a lift from Peter Pounce and less than 2 pages later jumps out of the coach rather than stay a minute longer. Or the pointless story Adams’ son, Dick, tells, of two old schoolfriends who fall out. Or Joseph boxing Beau Didapper after he goosed Fanny; or Joseph threatening Adams after he finds Adams in her bed (in Carry On style blundering around the wrong bedrooms) – almost everyone at every level bickers and argues.

Rape as a plot device

The plot of Pamela is her virginity under attack. Fielding ridiculed this but what else is the motive force of Joseph Andrews but repeated attacks on women? We meet Fanny as a stranger is trying to rape her on a heath; then she is abducted by the Squire’s men for the same purpose. RAPE.

Money

A huge amount of time is wasted trying to have enough money to pay inn bills – there’s no way of securing credit, credit cards, local banks…

Theology

Latitudinarian was a derogatory term applied to a group of 17th century British theologians who believed in conforming to official Church of England practices but who felt that issues of doctrine, liturgical practice or ecclesiastical organization were of relatively unimportant. They built on Richard Hooker’s belief, expressed in Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, that God cares about the moral state of the individual soul and matters like church hierarchy are ‘things indifferent’.

But the Latitudinarians took the position far beyond Hooker and extended it to doctrinal matters. At the time, their position was referred to as low church (in contrast to the High church position). Later, the latitudinarian position was called Broad church. While always officially opposed, the latitudinarian philosophy nonetheless became the dominant theological belief in 18th century England.

The narrator

The main character of Joseph Andrews is the narrator, whose good-humoured satire colours every page. The other characters are colourless puppets. Even Parson Adams only exhibits such naked naivete because it helps Fielding highlight even the slightest moral failing of any other character i.e. he is more plot or didactic function, than character. [And thus I begin to see why modern critics prefer Richardson.] The narrator’s persona shifts, including a wide range of tricks and techniques:

  • Historian, assembling materials, always claiming it is a ‘true’ story or ‘history’
  • Creator, not least creator of the Reader, a hypothetical construct which he uses to satirise us
  • Reporter (occasionally claiming to have heard the events he’s describing recounted by witnesses – at the end he claims to have received letters from Mr Wilson)
  • Arbiter of morals and manners – Preacher – preaching his brand of Christian humanism i.e. charity is the key Christian value (of which Parson Adams is a kind of personification)
  • Manipulator, as a playwright manipulates characters and creates scenes
  • Painter, as in the pen-portraits of Joseph, Slipslop, Fanny (à la Hogarth)
  • Mock heroic author: dipping into mock heroic use of epic conventions to mock fights in pubs (as Quixote)

Tristram Shandy

I’d forgotten how madcap the 18th century narrator is. Fielding admits he’s made up panegyrics etc just to pad out chapters, says ‘You shall see what happened in the next chapter’ etc: i.e. a confident, urbane puppetmaster, playing with the reader’s expectations, and that playing with our expectations is more interesting, frankly, than anything which happens in the book.

Book Four

Book four is almost completely pointless padding. The entire cast has arrived back in Booby Hall, Somersetshire, and there follow pointless complications & silly farce until a Pedlar and a gypsy reveals that Joseph is really Mr Wilson’s son, long ago stolen by gypsies, and then swapped for Gammar Andrews’ daughter (who they took). So Fanny is actually Pamela’s sister (the Andrews sisters!) and Joseph is Joseph Wilson, thus they are completely free to marry 🙂

Comedy names

  • Lord & Lady Booby
  • Mrs Slipslop
  • Constable Suckbribe
  • Sir Oliver Hearty
  • Beau Didapper

Is it the first realistic novel? It seems to me it’s trying to do a number of things – using Don Quixote as a model – mostly quite fierce moralising.

The plot dénouement i.e. the revelation of the true identity of the lovers, which allows them to be reconciled, apparently harks back to Roman New Comedy i.e. was nearly 2,000 years old – so the plot certainly isn’t new.

The structure i.e. a rambling picaresque, Fielding acknowledges owes something to Don Quixote – but then the basic idea that a journey provides an open-ended container for any number of adventures goes back to the Odyssey – 3,000 years ago! That is hardly novel.

What novelty there is, then, seems to me to be the way the picaresque plot is used as a frame on which to hang a moralist’s vision of contemporary England. Now that, I think, is unprecedented.

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (1678)

John Bunyan came from very humble background. Born in a village near Bedford in 1628, he had some schooling before joining the Parliamentary (anti-king) army at the start of the Civil War (1642). This and his marriage spurred him to investigate his religion more closely and he began preaching to local groups of Christians outside the structure of the official Church of England.

After the restoration of Charles II (1660) the new, reactionary Parliament passed the Act of Uniformity, requiring all religious activity to be licensed and to follow the rites and rituals laid down in the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer and all ministers to be appointed by an Anglican bishop. The aim was Control and Conformity after the anarchy of the Civil War years.

Bunyan refused to do this, not applying for a licence he knew he wouldn’t get and continuing to preach to non-Anglican groups around Bedford and beyond, which made him a non-conformist (for refusing to conform to the rules). He was arrested in November 1660, tried for his illegal preaching and ended up spending the next 12 years in prison (1660-72). The prison regime was quite lax, he had the company of various other devout Christians, books and writing materials and was even let out on some occasions for good behaviour.

While in prison he wrote Grace Abounding To The Chief of Sinners and began the Pilgrim’s Progress. During his imprisonment the political and social climate had changed significantly and in 1672 the king passed a Declaration of Indulgence which suspended penal laws against non-conformists. Thousands were released from prison, including Bunyan, who immediately applied for a licence to preach and took up his old activities.

Bunyan wrote prodigiously, mostly pamphlets, though he published some 40 longer works in his lifetime. By far the most famous is the Pilgrim’s Progress, published in 1678 which went on to become the most published book in English after the Bible. It takes the form of an allegory, in which the Pilgrim is tasked with saving his soul and during his journey encounters characters representing types of person or attitudes towards the Christian life.

Notes on allegory

Allegory compels a one-to-one relationship between a symbol and its meaning. Unlike the a) vagueness b) take-it-or-leave-it, of symbolism, allegory demands that you go beneath the surface story to derive the secondary meaning. In Bunyan the allegory is continually in plain view, easy and accessible.

The Pilgrim’s Progress has endured because of:

  • the accuracy & immediacy of its characterisation
  • the similar accuracy of its dialogue & argumentation – I was particularly taken with the arguments of Mr Worldly-Wiseman
  • the swiftness of its pace; most of the incidents are over in a few pages; many of the debates are over in a paragraph.

For the modern reader the most notable aspects of the text is the complete absence of colour & description of anything:

Now there was not far from the place they lay, a castle, called Doubting-Castle, the owner whereof was Giant Despair, and it was in his grounds that they were now sleeping.

No description of the castle or the giant. Compare what Edmund Spenser would have done in his wonderful poetic allegory the Faerie Queene (1590). But then Spenser was writing for a highly cultured, courtly culture and invested his poem with Elizabethan luxury. Bunyan is deliberately doing the opposite: reducing the drama of the Christian life to its bare (very bare) essentials.

  • The accuracy of the characterisation
  • The mercifully brief length of the spiritual debates, because a great deal of the subject matter seems to us to consist of the splitting of almost invisible theological hairs

The lack of description is the obverse of its strength: it gets straight to the point, the point being to demonstrate fully and clearly the scores of temptations, excuses, pretences, delusions and delays which can divert the would-be Christian from following their faith and saving their soul.

The plot

The narrator falls asleep in a den & dreams a dream. He sees:

Christian, inhabitant of the City of Destruction, weeping with fear, reading in the Bible that he is condemned to die and labouring under a heavy burden (of sin) on his back. Evangelist hands him a roll simply saying ‘Fly the wrath to come’. Go to that distant Wicket Gate to seek the Celestial City.

Dialogue with Obstinate and Pliable.

Christian falls into the Slough of Despond, Pliable abandons him, Help comes & shows him the true path.
Christian meets Mr Worldly-Wiseman from the town of Carnal-Policy, who advises him to seek out Mr Legality in the town of Morality (or his son, Civility) i.e. replace true religion with legality & civil appearance.

But before Legality’s house is an enormous mountain threatening to fall on him & crush him, so Christian stops & hesitates. At this moment Evangelist reappears & critiques Worldly-Wiseman & all his guiles.
Terrified at his error, Christian retraces his way to the true path and comes soon to the Wicket Gate. Good Will opens & pulls him through, asking him to recount his adventures & explaining them.

Once again on the right way, Christian comes to the House of the Interpreter who shows him various emblems & interprets them for him:

  • a picture of an apostle
  • a parlour full of dust i.e. a soul full of original sin which requires the water of grace to be sprinkled on it to settle it
  • two little children, Passion and Patience
  • the fire of grace continually burning being fuelled by Christ which the Devil endlessly tries to extinguish
  • a Knight of God who fights his way into the Palace of God against the armed men outside
  • Christian is shown a man trapped in the cage of his own despair
  • Christian sees a man waking trembling from a dream of the Last Judgement in which he is not saved

Bolstered with these insights Christian sets off & soon comes to a hill with a Cross on top and a sepulchre at the bottom. Effortlessly the burden of his sin is lifted from him. Three holy ones say thy sins are forgiven, dress him in new clothes, put a mark on his forehead and give him a roll of writing with a seal upon.

Further down the way he sees to one side three sleeping figures, Simple, Sloth and Presumption. He tries to wake them but they ignore him.

Then two men scramble over the wall of the narrow way, Formality & Hypocrisy who boast that they don’t need to come in by way of the Narrow Gate; Christian disdains them & comes to a hill called Difficulty. Christian struggles up it but the Formality & Hypocrisy take the easy-looking paths round the side (but one is Danger & one is Destruction).

Halfway up the hill of Difficulty is a pleasant arbour & there Christian rests & sleeps & the holy roll falls out of his pocket. He wakes & continues to the top where he meets Timorous and Mistrust running the other way. He rejects their advice to run away but realises he’s lost his roll; returns to the arbour; find it; turns around; finally comes to the house Beautiful.

Is invited in by the porter Watchful, then discourses with Piety, Prudence and Charity. Watchful et al delay him several days & tell Christian stories of Christian heroes, clothe him in armour, show him the weapons used by eg Gideon, Moses, Samson. They set him on his way down into the Valley of Humiliation, where he meets Apollyon: they debate whose subject Christian is, Apollyon’s or Christ’s, then fall to fighting & Christian wounds Apollyon who flies off.

A hand appears with leaves from the Tree of Life to heal & refresh him. Then Christian comes to the brink of the Valley of The Shadow of Death, where he meets two spies heading back with scary reports of what lies ahead.

The way through the Valley is dark, with a ditch on one side into which the blind fall, and a quag on the other. In the middle of the Valley is the mouth of Hell spewing forth flames & smoke, and Christian can hear crowds of fiends coming towards him; he resorts to fervent prayer.

Eventually day breaks & he can see the perils he’s passed & see ahead the 2nd half of the Valley full of traps. Finally he comes to the end & sees 2 caves inhabited by Pagan & Pope, fronted by lots of dead bones of their victims. But Pagan is long since dead & Pope is a feeble old man who says you should all burn but is harmless.

From a small rise he sees Faithful ahead & runs to catch him up. Faithful tells him about his journey from the City of Destruction, to wit: he was tempted by the lady Wanton; he was invited to work for the First Adam & his daughters The Lust of the Flesh, The Lust of the Eyes and The Pride of Life. Then he’s overcome by Moses who batters him relentlessly to the ground, until he is freed by ‘one with holes in his hands’. In the Valley of Humility he meets Discontent who tells him it’s a crappy Valley; then Shame who rails against all forms of religion as unworthy a man.

Back to the present where Faithful & Christian fall in with Talkative who, it eventually dawns on them, is all talk. Faithful gives a very edifying discourse on the difference between talk/knowledge – and action. By their fruits shall ye know them. Talkative departs.

Then Evangelist catches up with them & encourages them & warns them of the extremities they will suffer in the coming town.

Faithful & Christian arrive in the town of Vanity and go through its Fair, established 5,000 years ago by Beelzebub & Apollyon to ensnare pilgrims. They quickly cause a hubbub by their outlandish clothes & high-minded speech until there’s eventually a fight; and they’re brought before the court of Lord Hategood. Faithful goes first and is testified against by Envy, Superstition and Pickthank; then the jury, foreman Mr Blindman, condemn him for treason to the King of the country ie Beelzebub, breaking the laws of Pharoah, Darius etc, he is tortured & finally burnt at the stake. But his soul is scooped up in a chariot & taken to glory in Heaven.

God lets Christian escape. He falls in immediately with Hope. They are soon joined by Mr By-Ends from the town of Fair-Speech which is full of temporisers, compromisers & deceivers i.e. those who betrayed their principles to conform in 1662. Christian & Hope reject him.

But then, in a genuinely novel-like incident, By-Ends meets up with his friends from school in Love-gain in the county of Coveting, Mr Hold-the-world, Mr Money-love and Mr Save-all, and they have a conversation justifying their principles i.e that if a churchman is offered worldly gain he ought to take it. The characterisation – the entering into an alien mindset and set of arguments is powerfully novellish.
They catch up with Christian and Hope put their arguments to them, who vigorously reject them. To make religion a stalking horse for worldly gain is a sin.

Leaving them stunned C&H come to a silver mine in the hill of Lucre, and Demas hails them to come see. They easily spot it as a trap & continue. When By-ends passes he goes over to look & falls in & is never seen again.

Shortly after they come across Lot’s wife turned to a pillar of salt, giving rise to reflections.
Then they see a stile by the way with another smoother way through a meadow & Christian persuades Hopeful to take it. They meet Vainglory who confirms their choice & they go along & it gets dark & Vainglory falls into a pit. Then they fear & turn back but lose their way & lie down to sleep & Giant Despair captures them & takes them to Doubting Castle where they are scourged & beaten & encouraged to kill themselves – for some weeks – until Christian remembers he has a Promise (of salvation) in his pocket & uses it to free them.

Back on the right way they come to the Delectable Mountains and the shepherds who graze it; who show them a hill called Error with victims at its foot, a hill called Caution from which they see those blinded by despair stumbling in a graveyard; and a doorway into hell. Then the shepherds take them to a hill called Clear & show them the way to the Celestial City through a telescope.

They encounter Ignorance, a confident lad who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Hopeful tells the story of Little-faith, who was mugged by Faint-heart, Mistrust and Guilt, giving rise to a long debate about faith.

A black man dressed in white robes decoys them & ties them in nets. They are rescued by a Shining One. They meet Atheist who laughs in their faces. They laugh back.

They come to the Enchanted Ground and feel very sleepy. To keep awake they talk, specifically Faithful describes his spiritual awakening which is similar to Bunyan’s. Then they tarry to talk to Ignorance i.e. to prove his faith ignorant because based on wishes to be saved not on the converse conviction of one’s own wretched hopeless sinfulness which is the foundation of Puritan faith. They speculate why some men feel a conviction of sin but quash it to live more carnally at ease with the world.

The next day they come to the Land of Beulah, which is an earthly paradise within sight of the Celestial City where they relax, eat & talk to the gardener.

Two angels escort them over the River of Death where Christian has his final fears & anxieties before making it across, being carried up & into the Celestial City.

The very last scene is of poor Ignorance struggling up behind them and, having no certificate, being despatched down a back passage to hell.

Conclusion

As the atheist I am I find it absolutely typical that a Christian can’t envisage the joys of heaven without gloating over someone else being consigned to the pains of hell. I guess this last note is to prevent complacency in its readers, as throughout the book – as throughout the Old Testament – it is emphasised that fear of God is the only true beginning of wisdom.

But you can disagree completely with the theology and still find this is a powerful, challenging, memorable book.

Related links

A Chronology of Eighteenth Century Novels

1689
A Letter Concerning Toleration by John Locke
Two Treatises of Government by John Locke
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke

1690
A Second Letter Concerning Toleration by John Locke

1690-1696
Athenian Gazette, afterwards The Athenian Mercury, written & published by John Dunton

1692 Daniel Defoe bankrupted with debts of £17,000.
A Third letter for Toleration by John Locke
The Fables of Æsop and other Eminent Mythologists: with Moral Reflections by Roger L’Estrange

1693
Some Thoughts Concerning Education by John Locke

1695 The Licensing Act lapses.
The Reasonableness of Christianity, as delivered in the Scriptures by John Locke
A Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity by John Locke

1696
Christianity Not Mysterious A Treatise Shewing, That there is nothing in the Gospel Contrary to Reason, Nor Above It: And that no Christian Doctrine can be properly called A Mystery by John Toland (the first person called a freethinker)

1697
An Essay Upon Projects by Daniel Defoe
The Works of Virgil by John Dryden
A Letter in Answer To a Book entitled Christianity not Mysterious by John Tolland
Method to Science by John Sergeant
Solid Philosophy Asserted against the Fancies of the Ideists: or the Method to Science Farther Illustrated, with Reflections on Mr Locke’s Essay concerning Human Understanding by John Sergeant

1698
An Argument Showing That a Standing Army with Consent of Parliament is not Inconsistent with Free Government by Daniel Defoe
An Enquiry into the Occasional Conformity of Dissenters in Cases of Preferment by Daniel Defoe
The Bishop of Worcester’s Answer To Mr Locke’s Second Letter by Edward Stillingfleet

1699
Third Remarks Upon an Essay Concerning Human Understanding by Thomas Burnet
Fables and Storyes Moralized by Roger L’Estrange

1700
The Two Great Questions Considered by Daniel Defoe
The Six Distinguishing Characters of a Parliament Man by Daniel Defoe
Fables Ancient and Modern by John Dryden

1701 the exiled James II dies: Louis XIV declares his son rightful king of England. The Act of Settlement declares the Electress Sophia and her descent as the royal family of the United Kingdom, once both King William I and his sister and successor, Queen Anne, have died.
The True-Born Englishman by Daniel Defoe
A Vindication of the Rights of the Commons of England by Daniel Defoe
A Free Discourse concerning Truth and Error by John Edwards

1702 King William dies; succeeded by Queen Anne. A parliamentary bill to ban occasional conformity.
The Daily Courant commences, England’s first daily newspaper.
The Observator written & published by John Tutchin, in dialogue form.
The Shortest Way with the Dissenters by Daniel Defoe
Anti-Scepticism, or Notes Upon each Chapter of Mr Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding by Henry Lee

1703 January: warrant issued for arrest of Defoe. May: Defoe arrested. July: Defoe found guilty & sentenced to 3 public displays in the pillory & imprisonment in Newgate. Wrote Hymn to the Pillory. Released from Newgate in November.

1704 John Locke dies. Battle of Bleinheim.
Defoe begins his Review as an organ of moderation and of broad commercial interests. Defoe’s chief contribution to journalism at this period is his abandonment of dialogue form and of the partisan tone of his predecessors and contemporaries. Four pages. Tri-weekly. Review runs 17 February, 1704 to 11 June, 1713.
The Rehearsal (newspaper) written by Charles Leslie, chief organ of the high churchmen.
Giving Alms No Charity by Daniel Defoe
A Tale of A Tub & The Battle of The Books by Jonathan Swift

1705 The Consolidator, a political allegory by Daniel Defoe.
A True Relation of the Apparition of one Mrs. Veal, the next Day after her Death, to one Mrs. Bargrave at Canterbury, the 8th of September, 1705 by Daniel Defoe

1706 Jure Divino by Daniel Defoe, a ‘ponderous’ verse treatise on the theory of monarchy. October 1706-December 1707 Defoe in Scotland working for Harley to help the Act of Union, spying & writing reports to Harley, and anonymous pamphlets to support the act.
Horae Lyricae by Isaac Watts

1707 Act of Union with Scotland
Hymns by Isaac Watts

1709
Pastorals by Pope
The Tatler founded (thrice weekly)
History of the Union by Defoe

1710
A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
by Bishop Berkeley
Theodicy by Leibniz

1711
An Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope
The Spectator founded (daily). ‘Steele and Addison were for the middle class life but not exactly of it.’ (Ian Watt The Rise of The Novel, p.54)
The Conduct of the Allies and of the late Ministry in beginning and carrying on the present war by Jonathan Swift

1712
The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope

1713 The Treaty of Utrecht ends the War of Spanish Succession
Windsor Forest by Alexander Pope
On The Conduct of the Allies by Jonathan Swift
Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous (Locke and Berkeley) by Bishop Berkeley

1714 Queen Anne dies. George I ascends the throne.
Monadology by Leibniz

1715 First Jacobite Uprising.
Divine Songs the first children’s hymn book by Isaac Watts

1719 The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an uninhabited Island on the coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pirates. Written by Himself by Daniel Defoe
Love In Excess by Eliza Haywood
Psalms of David by Isaac Watts

1720 –THE FARTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE; Being the Second and Last Part OF HIS LIFE, And of the Strange Surprizing Accounts of his Travels Round three Parts of the Globe. Written by Himself. To which is added a Map of the World, in which is Delineated the Voyages of ROBINSON CRUSOE by Daniel Defoe
The History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Duncan Campbell (the deaf and dumb conjurer) by Daniel Defoe
Memoirs of a Cavalier, A Military Journal of the Wars in Germany, and the Wars in England. From the Year 1632 to the Year 1648 by Daniel Defoe.
The Life, Adventures and Piracies of the Famous Captain Singleton by Daniel Defoe
The Iliad translated by Alexander Pope
A Select Collection of Novels and Histories edited by Samuel Croxall

1721
Sermons by Isaac Watts

1722
The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe
The History and Remarkable Life of the truly Honourable Colonel Jacque by Daniel Defoe
Aesop’s Fables translated by Samuel Croxall

1724
The Fortunate Mistress or Roxana by Daniel Defoe
A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain by Daniel Defoe
The Drapier’s Letters by Jonathan Swift
Shakespeare’s Works edited by Alexander Pope. It is criticism of this edition’s many mistakes that crystalised Pope’s decision to write The Dunciad.

1726
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
The Odyssey translated by Alexander Pope
Logic by Isaac Watts

1727 Death of Sir Isaac Newton

1728
Memoirs of Captain George Carleton by Daniel Defoe
A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
The Dunciad by Pope
Ephraim Chambers’s Cyclopedia
The Procedure, Extent and Limits of Human Understanding by Peter Browne
Two Dissertations Concerning Sense and the Imagination, with an Essay on Consciousness by Zachary Mayne

1729
A Select Collection of Novels and Histories 2nd Edition edited by Samuel Croxall

1730
The Seasons by James Thomson
Catechisms of Isaac Watts

1731 Daniel Defoe dies. Founding of The Gentlemen’s Magazine by Edward Cave.
Philosophical Essays on Various Subjects by Isaac Watts

1732
Scripture History by Isaac Watts

1734
Essay on Man by Alexander Pope

1735
The Dunciad Variorum by Alexander Pope

1736
The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed by Bishop Butler

1738
The World To Come by Isaac Watts

1739
A Treatise of Human Nature by David Hume

1740 First circulating library opened in London
Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson
An Apology for The Life of Mrs Shamela Andrews by Henry Fielding

1741
The Improvement of the Mind by Isaac Watts
The Anti-Pamela; or Feign’d Innocence Detected by Eliza Haywood

1742 The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and his Friend, Mr. Abraham Abrams by Henry Fielding
The Complaint, or Night Thoughts on Life, Death and Immortality by Edward Young

1743
The History of the Life of the Late Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great by Henry Fielding

1743
The New Dunciad by Pope

1744 Alexander Pope dies.
Life of Savage by Samuel Johnson
Essays Moral and Political by David Hume

1745 Jonathan Swift dies. Jacobite Rebellion. Battle of Culloden.

1747
Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson
Zadig ou la Destinée (Zadig, or The Book of Fate) by Voltaire

1748
The Adventures of Roderick Random by Tobias Smollett
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume

1749
The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling by Henry Fielding
Fanny Hill, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland
The Vanity of Human Wishes by Samuel Johnson
A Journey From This World To The Next by Henry Fielding

1750 Feb 8th: small earthquake hits London. Bishop Sherlock writes his Letter

1752
The Female Quixote; or, The Adventures of Arabella by Charlotte Lennox

1751
Amelia by Henry Fielding
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle by Tobias Smollett
An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals by David Hume
The Covent Garden Journal, edited by Henry Fielding
First volume of the Encyclopedie ou Dictionnaire raisonne de sciences, des arts et des metiers by Denis Diderot

1753
Ferdinand Count Fathom by Tobias Smollett
The History of Sir Charles Grandison by Samuel Richardson
Poems by Thomas Gray

1754 The 7 Years War begins.

1754-62
The History of Great Britain by David Hume

1755 November 1, earthquake strikes Lisbon, followed by a tsunami: together killing 60-100,000 people and destroying the city, striking on a religious holiday and destroying almost every church in the city. The event was widely discussed by European Enlightenment philosophers, and inspired major developments in theodicy and in the philosophy of the sublime.
Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson
Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon by Henry Fielding

1756
A Vindication of Natural Society by Edmund Burke

1757
A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful by Edmund Burke

1759
Rasselas by Samuel Johnson
A Political Romance by Laurence Sterne
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent. Vols I & II by Laurence Sterne
Candide by Voltaire
The Theory of Moral Sentiments by David Hume

1760 George III ascends the throne.
The Life and Adventures of Launcelot Greaves by Tobias Smollett
The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

1761
Julie ou La Nouvelle Heloise by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
A Description of Millenium Hall and the Country Adjacent by Sarah Scott
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy Vols III & IV
by Laurence Sterne

1762
The Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy Vols V & VI
The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett
Émile, or Treatise on Education by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The Citizen of the World by Oliver Goldsmith
Sophia by Charlotte Lennox

1763 The Seven Years War ends

1764
The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
The Traveller by Oliver Goldsmith
Philosophic Dictionary by Voltaire
Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense by Thomas Reid

1765
The Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy Vols VI & VIII

1766
The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith

1767
The Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy Vol IX
The Female American; or, The Adventures of Unca Eliza Winkfield
by Anonymous
L’Ingénu by Voltaire

1768 Joshua Reynolds becomes first President of the Royal Academy. First weekly instalments of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy by Lawrence Sterne (Sterne dies a month after publication)
The Good-Natured Man by Oliver Goldsmith

1769 James Cook lands in New Zealand. James Watt patents a condenser to improve efficiency of steam engines. Richard Arkwright invents a spinning frame to mechanise cotton weaving.
The History and Adventures of an Atom by Tobias Smollett

1770 Captain Cook explores Australia: discovers the Barrier Reef, Botany Bay.
The Deserted Village by Oliver Goldsmith

1771
The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker by Smollett
The Man of Feeling by Henry Mackenzie

1773 Calcutta becomes the capital of British India.
She Stoops To Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith

1774 Joseph Priestley identifies oxygen.
The Sorrow of Young Werther by Goethe

1775 American Revolution begins with battles at Concord, Lexington.
Tour of the Western Isles of Scotland by Samuel Johnson

1776 American Declaration of Independence.
Common Sense by Thomas Paine
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

1778
Evelina by Fanny Burney

1779
Lives of the Poets by Samuel Johnson
Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion by David Hume

1780 The anti-Catholic Gordon Riots in London.

1782
Cecilia by Fanny Burney
Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

1783 Paris Peace Treaty ends American Revolution.

1785
Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man by Thomas Reid
The 120 Days of Sodom, or the School of Libertinism (Les 120 journées de Sodome ou l’école du libertinage by Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade

1788 first convicts transported from Britain to Australia.
Essays on the Active Powers of Man by Thomas Reid

1789 George Washington elected first President of the United States.
Songs of Innocence by William Blake

1790
Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake

1791
Justine (or The Misfortunes of Virtue) by Donatien Alphonse François de Sade

1792
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft

1793 Reign of Terror in Paris
Visions of the Daughter of Albion by William Blake
Enquiry concerning Political Justice, and its Influence on General Virtue and Happiness by William Godwin

1794
The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
Things as They Are; or The Adventures of Caleb Williams by William Godwin
Climax of the Terror. Robespierre guillotined.
Songs of Experience by William Blake

1795
The Book of Los by William Blake

1796 First vaccination administered by Edward Jenner
Camilla by Fanny Burney
Memoirs of Emma Courtney by Mary Hays

1797
The Coquette or, The History of Eliza Wharton by Hannah Webster Foster

1798
An Essay on the Principle of Population, as it affects the Future Improvement of Society with remarks on the Speculations of Mr. Godwin, M. Condorcet, and Other Writers by Rev Thomas Malthus
Clermont by Regina Maria Roche
Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
Wieland: or, The Transformation: An American Tale by Charles Brockden Brown

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