Variously lampooned as Marplay, Sir Farcical Comic, Ground Ivy, and Conny Keyber, Colley Cibber famously provided Henry Fielding with much comic fuel at the start of his career. Cibber was the crass authority figure against whom the rebellious youth took up arms, but also the man who made it possible for Fielding to make his theatrical debut in Drury Lane at a time when the majority of novice playwrights were rejected outright. Fielding's rivalry with the popularizer of reform comedy was a powerful drive behind the farces of his youth and his satirical first novel, but it can also be seeing as operating behind the contrivance of Fielding's reformed rakes in his mature novels. This essay provides an overview of the relationship between Fielding and Cibber, concentrating in particular on the echoes of Cibber's The Careless Husband (1704) in Fielding's last novel Amelia (1751), in which the eponymous protagonist faces the challenge of coping with and reforming an adulterous husband. The argument presented here suggests that Fielding continued to look back on the theater—his first literary passion—throughout his life, long after he had ceased writing for the stage.


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pp. 784-810
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