Northern Illinois University Press

The Author's Inheritance

Henry Fielding, Jane Austen, and the Establishment of the Novel

Jo Alyson Parker

"An outstanding study...effortlessly lucid, highly readable, and jargon-free."—Alistair Duckworth, University of Florida

The Author's Inheritance is the first extended study to focus on Henry Fielding's influence on the works of Jane Austen. Parker explores how Fielding and Austen rely upon a common comedic vision, employ similar themes and plot structures, and follow a similar trajectory in their careers. Each author reinforces the social and cultural status quo while simultaneously revealing its deficiencies, creating a comforting social vision that ensures their place in the literary canon.

Parker alternates readings of Fielding's novels with comparable works by Austen in order to examine the ways both authors draw upon and test variations of the inheritance plot. For Parker, the inheritance plot serves as both a thematic link and a metaphor for literary and moral authority in the eighteenth-century novel. Austen reworks themes and motifs common to Fielding and thus both claims a place for her texts in the novel tradition and revises that tradition to include women.

Parker also examines the establishment of the novel as a genre. She ultimately places her argument within the debate over whether the novel is subversive or prescriptive. She asserts that the novel serves as a matrix of cultural conflict, concurrently reinforcing tradition and also enabling us to see alternatives to it.

(1998) 250 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-239-8
cloth $40.00

Table of Contents

Part I: From Parody to Autonomy
1. Discovering Homer's Heir
2. Written by "A Lady"
Part II: Mastering the Novel
3. Tom Jones: The Plot of the Author
4. Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen's Double Inheritance Plot
Part III: Questioning the Novel
5. Amelia: Fielding's Dark Sequel
6. Mansfield Park: Dismantling Pemberley
Works Cited

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-239-8
cloth $40.00