Joseph Andres

Q. Discuss the importance and purpose of Fielding’s Preface to Joseph Andrews. What does Fielding say in it?  
The Preface makes clear that while Fielding's outlook is undoubtedly comic; his comic writing nevertheless has a serious point. Fielding rejects the genre of conventional romance because it contains "very little instruction or entertainment," whereas Fielding's twofold goal is precisely to instruct and entertain. The notion that good art is "utile et dulce," both useful and sweet, educational and enjoyable, comes from the Roman poet Horace, an authoritative source of classical thinking on the purposes of art. Fielding makes ironic reference to Horace in Chapter I when, having listed a number of popular tales available in cheap pamphlet form, he remarks, "In all these, Delight is mixed with Instruction, and the Reader is almost as much improved as entertained." The target of his irony here is not the classical principle itself but the modern works that fail to live up to that principle. In outlining his own "utile et dulce" approach to the novel, Fielding rejects burlesque and caricature because he wants to inspire laughter not for its own sake but constructively, with humor being the vehicle of moral commentary. His target, therefore, will not be "what is monstrous and unnatural," what never really occurs in life and thus, in being exposed, cannot edify readers; rather, he will "confine [himself] strictly to Nature," exposing "the true Ridiculous" as it exists in everyday life, thereby performing a corrective function for the morals of the age.
Fielding defends the various vices inserted in his novel because "they are never the principal figure." He closes by emphasizing the character of Parson Adams, "whose goodness of heart" stems from his "perfect simplicity.

In Fielding's analysis, the outstanding moral fault of the day, the fault which is consequently the outstanding preoccupation of Fielding's writing,   is "Affectation," the "only source of the...