Influences on Henry Fielding

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      The important influences on Henry Fielding are not difficult to trace. They are evident in his works as well as in his own utterances. The main influences were that of drama, journalism, classical knowledge, and the continental authors.

      Fielding was initially a dramatist, though he did not succeed on the stage as well as he did as a novelist. It is to be noted that his characters derive from the Comedy of Humours. It is his dramatic experience which enables Fielding to create vital minor characters. But the "Comedy of Humours" technique also limits Fielding's scope.

      The English novel owes a great deal to Journalism. Fielding himself was a journalist. Indeed, his critical essays, which intersperse the chapters of his novel, are in the tradition of the type of articles which appeared in periodicals of the time.

      Fielding was a man of the eighteenth century. As such, it was natural for him to be well steeped in classical literature. He called his novel a "comic epic in prose". His works show evidence of the classical epics. He writes novels of epic proportions.

      Fielding was, like all other writers, influenced by earlier writers. Besides the writers of classical antiquity, some continental writers also influenced Fielding.

      Fielding's novels, then, show the various factors which influenced him as a writer. Though he gets the credit for having formulated a new species of prose-writing, he could not have achieved what he did without the help of his illustrious predecessors on the continent. Nor can we ignore the major influence of the theatre and his classical knowledge on his writing.

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