Abstract

abstract:

This essay discusses representations of crime and justice in London during the years of Henry Fielding’s Bow Street magistracy (1748–54), with an emphasis on his management of the press and its influence on popular feeling. Contemporary newspaper reports about Fielding and his thieftakers offered comforting narratives about authority triumphing over disorder. His Charge Delivered to the Grand Jury (1749) and Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers (1751), however, described a crisis of lawlessness. Finally, his Covent Garden Journal (1752) invested offenders’ stories with strong elements of humor, compassion, and prurient interest. I conclude that Fielding’s literary and commercial instincts inspired polyvocal representations of passion and compassion that undermined the “authorized” message of law and justice.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1544-399X
Print ISSN
0018-7895
Pages
pp. 71-97
Launched on MUSE
2017-03-22
Open Access
No
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