Reflections April 2022
Fielding as a moralist
On the eighteenth-century English novelist.
Editors’ note: The following is an edited version of remarks delivered for The Georgian Group in February 2022.
Typical of British society before the revolution in America, a society that spanned the Atlantic and whose authors were read on both its sides, the novels of Henry Fielding are part of the American literary heritage. They underline its variety, a variety that includes differing forms of American nativism but also Americans who lived and worked abroad, just as, for example, Benjamin West was an American painter.
Fielding (1707–54) came from a distinguished background, his father having a successful army career and his mother being the daughter of a judge. He went to Eton and then to Leiden University, but the death of his mother, and his father’s subsequent remarriage,...
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