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Abstract

Fielding's last novel has long been read as a complex attempt both to expand the range of his social analysis and to articulate a reading of human experience that places emphasis on the depth of personal emotion. Fielding does this by weaving into his narrative elements of his own experience, so that the novel abounds in allusions to his first marriage and other details of his private life. Fielding's cousin Lady Mary Wortley Montagu asserted to Lady Bute that in Amelia Fielding "has given a true picture of himselfe and his first Wife in the Characters of Mr. and Mrs. Booth ... and I am persuaded several of the Incidents he mentions are real matters of Fact." As Morris Golden says, 'Amelia constitutes a private retrospection and apologia for Fielding's marriage and life with Charlotte Cradock." It is tempting to accept the suggestion that "Fielding conceived Booth in his own image" and that he wrote Amelia at least in part to atone for the miserable life that he and his adoring Charlotte shared. For the novel so abounds in images of confession and in appeals for atonement that, without such clear hints of autobiographical context, one would have to be imagined.

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