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Works by Henry Fielding, Parody books, Classical Studies books
An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews, or simply Shamela, as it is more commonly known, is a satirical burlesque novella written by Henry Fielding. It was first published in April 1741 under the name of Mr. Conny Keyber. Fielding never admitted to writing the work, but it is widely considered to be his. It is a direct attack on the then-popular novel Pamela (1740) by Fielding's contemporary and rival Samuel Richardson and is composed, like Pamela, in epistolary form.
An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews Wikipedia
Shamela was originally published anonymously on 4 April 1741 and sold for one shilling and sixpence. A second edition came out on 3 November that same year which was partly reimpressed and partly reset where emendations were made.
A pirated edition was printed in Dublin in 1741 as well. Reprint editions have subsequently appeared as texts for academic study.
Shamela is written as a shocking revelation of the true events which took place in the life of Pamela Andrews, the main heroine of Pamela. From Shamela we learn that, instead of being a kind, humble and chaste servant-girl, Pamela (whose true name turns out to be Shamela) is in fact a wicked and lascivious creature and former prostitute, scheming to entrap her master, Squire Booby, into marriage.
The novel is a sustained parody of, and direct response to, the stylistic failings and moral hypocrisy that Fielding saw in Richardson's Pamela. Reading Shamela amounts to re-reading Pamela through a deforming magnifying glass; Richardson's text is rewritten in a way that reveals its hidden implications, to subvert and desecrate it.
Richardson's epistolary tale of a resolute servant girl, armed only with her 'virtue' to battle against her master's attempts at seduction, had become an overnight literary sensation in 1741. The implicit moral message – that a girl's chastity has eventual value as a commodity – as well as the awkwardness of the epistolary form in dealing with ongoing events, and the triviality of the detail which the form necessitates, were some of the main targets of Fielding's travesty.
Recent criticism has explored the ways in which Pamela in fact dramatises its own weaknesses. From this perspective, Fielding's work may be seen as a development of possibilities already encoded in Richardson's work, rather than a simple attack. Another novel by Fielding parodying Pamela, albeit not so explicitly, is The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and his Friend, Mr. Abraham Adams (February 1742), more commonly known as Joseph Andrews.