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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 November 2011
Written in 1742, seven years before Fielding's better known Tom Jones, Joseph Andrews is a good-natured and rambling prequel which shares many of the qualities of the later book. Initially inspired by Richardson's Pamela, who is the sister to Fielding's eponymous hero, the novel takes off on a Cervantean picaresque road adventure full of mock-epic heroics and bawdy humour, but with a solid moral core.

Unlike the later Tom Jones, Joseph is chaste and, it must be said, little more than a cipher, but his love for Fanny, which drives some of the plotting, is charming in a pastoral way. The centre of the book really belongs to Parson Adams, an innocent abroad, ever-forgetful, shocked by the immorality of the world - and our guiding compass.

Overall Fielding is an optimistic writer, and even his castigation of human nature is witty rather than disgusted, though some of the villains in the book deserve their punishments. Putting Joseph Andrews back into its social context of political ferment and ethical considerations reveals it as a text with a more serious aim than the easy, comic tone might initially suggest.
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on 5 December 2010
There's 2 books in this one volume, and both were first conceived by Henry Fielding as a satire upon the then recently published and immensely popular novel Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded (Oxford World's Classics) by Samuel Richardson. But both - especially 'Joseph Andrews' - go beyond mere satire and are therefore still hugely enjoyable today, even if one hasn't read Richardson's 'Pamela' (few people have I would hazard to guess).

In 'Joseph Andrews' Fielding chronicles the adventures of Joseph - supposedly the brother of Richardson's Pamela - in evading the amorous approaches by his employer Lady Booby (she herself sister to Pamela's fictional husband) and trying to obtain the hand of his girlfriend Fanny. In this Joseph and Fanny are assisted by their village parson Abraham Adams. This is pretty much all there is to it in terms of plot (nothing like the magnificent Tom Jones (Oxford World's Classics) which Fielding later was to write). In trying to make it to their home village in order to get married, the three of them meet with a variety of people, are robbed, imprisoned, entertained at various inns, ... These episodes, often only very loosely connected, enable Fielding to give a good-humoured but nonetheless scathing critique of all the sins of his contemporary society: bad manners, greed, hypocrisy, deceit, affectation, and so on and so forth.

And most of the time it is parson Adams who functions as Fielding's mechanism to expose these vices, because Adams is in fact innocence personified: he is the type of man who practices what he preaches, will believe nothing but good of whomever he meets, is quick to take offence when his own character or religion is doubted but but equally ready to share (even give away) his last shilling with the needy. Measured against him and his practice, all other characters - however lofty the principles may be that they claim to adhere - are demasked as ever so many hypocritical rogues. So although in the course of the book Adams is often the dupe of the tricks played upon him by others, in moral terms he is the standard set by Fielding and measured against which the others are found wanting. Above all, he as a character very much comes alive and is one of the most original and likeable characters I've come across in a long time.

If this may all sound a little dry and dull be assured that Fielding proves himself a superb humorist throughout the book, and be forewarned: chances are you'll be laughing out loud on trains, trams and busses if you hazard to read the book there.

'Shamela' is very short (barely 40 pages) so can barely be called an epistolary novel as is Richardson's 'Pamela' but it does use the same technique, only here Shamela and her mother in their letters to each other and diverse others are exposed as an intriguing harpies instead of virtuous maidens.

Fielding's stature as a literary giant is largely due to his great novel 'Tom Jones', and though the may not be on the same five star-level as that masterpiece I found both 'Joseph Andrews' and 'Shamela' very good books full of outright good-humoured fun.
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on 2 September 2013
Joseph Andrews and Shamela are old friends and I simply ordered them as I had lost my previous copies in a move, so I am afraid I have nothing original to say. I can however add that I find the notes to the Oxford World's Classics edition excellent.
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on 6 September 2016
A great rebuke on Richardsn's Pamela.
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on 26 August 2013
I had to read this for Uni and I enjoyed reading this! Found it funny in parts and it has a good plot line :)
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on 23 November 2015
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on 30 April 2014
This is a well book at a really good price. I am very happy with this purchase. Very happy !
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on 13 March 2014
I had to read this for a Literature course at uni and I always finish a book I have started. What to say? I did not enjoy reading Joseph Andrews; it just didn't capture my attention.

Take a chance on the book; you may love it!
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