A picaresque novel and as such, eminently forgettable and largely tedious. I can understand the importance of the book for the time it was written in, but unless you really enjoy “adventures” and plot elements that inevitably contrive to farce, then this isn’t for you.
It wasn’t for me.
So, why are we bothering with it at all? Well, the novel at the time Fielding wrote Joseph (1742) was a fairly predictable affair. Rules that heavily defined British society had constrained the novel within it’s own particular literary rules. Fielding was particularly upset about this and the popularity of such constrained novels by Samuel Richardson in particular.
Fielding intended to break some of the barriers of contemporary fiction and if Wikipedia is any authority to go by, he seems to have succeeded. But, never lacking historical irony, the success of trail-blazing mould-breakers only inspires others to form new moulds of their own.
In particular, Fielding inspired Smollet and Peregrine Pickle is, to my mind, a much more engaging piece of work than Joseph Andrews. If you were looking for an 18th century picaresque novel to while away some time, I’d recommend you bypass Joseph’s outstretched hand of friendship and hit the open road with Peregrine.
Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement | StyleRead more about how I come up with my ratings