Like other earlier authors, Fielding and Richardson place culturally shared “codes” in their texts and exploit those codes for their readers' instruction and delight. The historical critic uses multiple approaches to reclaim what our ancestors knew and what can enlarge modern knowledge and, thereby, modern pleasure. I here try to reclaim lost classical allusions, and use lexicography, textual variants, rape and marriage laws, and social and dynastic history to illumine Tom Jones, Pamela in her Exalted Condition, and Clarissa. The historical critic thus is empirical, inductive rather than agenda-driven, and deductive in method, and is formalist as well as historical in critical practice.

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