Bakhtin and Joseph Andrews Resources

Bakhtin Defining the Novel, 340ff (Reader-103)
1st definition of the novel:
“the novels as a whole is a phenomenon multiform in style and variform in speech and voice.”
5 types:
1: direct authorial literary-artistic narration
2: stylization of the various forms of oral everyday narration
3: stylization of various forms of semi-literary (written) everyday narration (letter, diary, etc)
4: Literary but extra-artistic authorial speech: moral, philosophical or scientific statements, oratory, ethnographic descriptions, memoranda and so forth
5: the stylistically individualized speech of characters

2nd definition of the novel: one of B’s most compelling characterizations of the novel:
“The stylistic uniqueness of the novel as a genre consists precisely in the combination of these subordinated, yet still relatively autonomous, unities …into the higher unity of the work as a whole: the style of a novel is to be found in the combination of its styles; the language of the novel is the system of its “languages.”” Each separate element relates to the code of its proper speech genre, to its proximate context in the novel, and to the style of the whole novel itself.

3rd definition of the novel: “The novel can be defined as a diversity of social speech types (sometimes even diversity of languages) and diversity of individual voices, artistically organized.”

Varieties of speech genre found in Joseph Andrews:

  • The stylized speech of characters: Adams, Lady Booby, Slipslop, Mrs. Tow-wouse, lawyers, parsons, country gentlemen, …
  • The scene from a play (e.g. Lady Booby’s attempted seduction of B; Night adventures)
  • Letters: Joseph to Pamela; Horatio & Leonora’s exchange; Bellamine’s brush-off; Harriet Hearty’s letter to Wilson
  • Life narratives:
    • JA narrator 3rd person: Betty the Chambermaid
    • Stage coach woman's 3rd person: Leonora
    • 1st person: Wilson’s narrative
  • Mock-epic: Slipslop at Tigress and Pike; Joseph and Adams doing battle with their crabsticks (description~shield of Achilles)
  • The children's story read by Dick
  • Sermon-like discourse: Adams on accepting adversity
  • Debates: about publishing sermons; about religion {faith vs. works}; public schools;
  • Critical discourse: on Homer’s Iliad

    Critical aside: inserting speech genres into the novel offers a mode of imagining the incorporation/representation of the social world and all its complexity that’s an alternative to the realist systems of verisimilitude and representation. Here language is a medium of transmission rather than both object and medium. (Bakhtin, 340; R-103)

Key issues and questions for reading Pamela and Joseph Andrews side by side
(Richardson calls Fielding's text "lewd and ungenerous engraftment")

  • What is Virtue?
  • The Epistemology (the study of how you know) of Character: how do you know someone’s character?
  • What are the effects of the different spaces for fiction in the two novels: home versus the road?
  • What are the effects of the techniques of narrative--letter-journal versus the complex narrative system of Fielding (with diverse speech genres, author-narrotor, etc.?
  • Why does Fielding give so much play to humor, the body, and coincidences?

Themes of my reading of Joseph Andrews [in Licensing Entertainment, Chapter 6, Joseph Andrew as Performative Entertainment,]

  1. Mixing criticism and various speech genres into the story to short-circuit reader's absorption (so courted in R's PAM)
  2. The unreliability of models and the dubious value of imitation; Adams is not a reliable mentor (failure or eclipse of the father is one of the great themes of 18th century literature--choose for yourself in marriage; dispense with your Father King--create a republic.
    [e.g.: Declaration of 1776 as attack on the father king. ]
  3. The narrator's mastery (as self-reflective critic of his own work, as spider god of the plot, as learned and witty entertainer, as keeper of the secrets) as the critic and reader's temptation
  4. But, the narrator-author tricks us: this is a performance, not the same as but "like" the actual world (world as stage topos); characters are not what they seem; we must negotiate heteroglossia, the dialogism of various speech genres, without a guide
  5. What is the effect of the insistence of the body over various ideologies (class; professions; even 'love')?
  6. Why the over-abundance of saving coincidences and the blatant contrivances of the end of the novel? Why so much explicit artifice?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge on Fielding and Richardson:

What a master of composition Fielding was! Upon my word, I think the Oedipus Tyrannus,The Alchemist, and Tom Jones, the three most perfect plots ever planned. And how charming, how wholesome, Fielding always is! To take him up after Richardson is like emerging from a sick-room heated by stoves into an open lawn on a breezy day in May. --