Sarah Fielding: Satire and Subversion in the Eighteenth-Century Novel

Jameson, June (2008) Sarah Fielding: Satire and Subversion in the Eighteenth-Century Novel. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

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Abstract

This study of Sarah Fielding (1710―68) is an original contribution to Fielding scholarship that has a dual purpose: to support those who are striving to re-introduce her to the modern literary landscape in an effort to restore her eighteenth-century literary standing, and to firmly establish Fielding as an early feminist writer. It is argued here that throughout her oeuvre Fielding challenged prevailing traditions that denied women a choice, particularly in education, employment and marriage. These themes are also considered in the political treatises of Mary Astell (1666―1731) and Mary Wollstonecraft (1759―97), who are now widely recognised as feminist writers.
It is further argued that Fielding’s subversion in fiction of the English patriarchal system is underscored by her unorthodox performance in the literary arena. This is fully explored alongside her use of sentimentalism as a literary tool with which she challenges her seemingly inhumane society. Fielding’s interest in ‘the Labyrinths of the Mind’ (in modern terms, human psychology) will also be addressed as will her placement in the history of feminism and her placement in the sentimental novel tradition. Fielding’s performance as a literary critic will be compared with the few female authors who, like her, dared to publish literary criticism during her writing career. Accordingly, extracts from Fielding’s novels and her two critical pamphlets will be thoroughly examined.
An updated biography of Fielding that is also included here will provide evidence for a further claim, that her fiction is autobiographical in part. A comprehensive account of Fielding’s performance as a literary critic forms the final chapter of this work. It is the first full-length examination of her contribution to the genre and includes an appraisal of her recently unearthed critical pamphlet entitled A Comparison Between the Horace of Corneille and The Roman Father of Mr. Whitehead (1750) that is yet to be formerly attributed to her. Ultimately this study of Fielding will go far beyond what has previously been written about this remarkable eighteenth-century author, particularly regarding her feminist activity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Culture > English Language and Literature
Divisions: Collections > Theses
Depositing User: Barry Hall
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2013 09:46
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2017 15:33
URI: http://sure.sunderland.ac.uk/id/eprint/3682

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