introductory note on joseph andrews
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Joseph Andrews was, then, a response to personal and financial exigencies, but it was equally a response to that great literary event of 1740, the publication of Samuel Richardson’s much-debated and oft-lampooned Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded. Detesting it for both its moral content and its literary method, Fielding himself had already parodied Richardson’s novel in the anonymously published Shamela, his classically savage novella of 1741. Joseph Andrews in some ways continues the satirical work that Shamela began, but with its broad range of contemporary reference and its self-conscious positioning vis-à-vis long-standing literary and moral traditions, Joseph Andrews clearly considers itself far more than just another sendup of the century’s most widely travestied novel.