Information about the author:
Mariya V. Stroganova
Mariya V. Stroganova, PhD in Philology, Journalist in Charitable foundation “Pravmir”.
At the turn of the 17th–18th centuries, in European culture, there is a significant shift from a religious type of thinking to a secular one. In the new bourgeois civilization, faith becomes a private matter for everyone, and the Church is assigned a much more modest role than before. At the same time, the Church has to defend itself in a polemic with deism, which is the philosophical basis of the En lightenment worldview. In eighteenth-century England, there was no such dramatic conflict between the Enlightenment worldview and religion as in France. Enlightenment and Anglican thought could even interact in creating the moral imperatives of a new bourgeois civilization. The very possibility of such a compromise explains the fact that in the English educational and sentimental novel we find not only positive, but also somewhat idealized images of priests among the main characters. These are heroes who have preserved traditional Christian ideals and moral requirements that for many people around them seem outdated, too high and “impractical”, heroes who reject the pursuit of prosperity and happiness as the main goal of existence. Against the background of other characters, they look like naive cranks, caught in the position of Don Quixote, an “incorrigible” idealist. The article examines the images of priests created by the authors of three classic novels of the 18th century: Joseph Andrews, or The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and of his Friend Mr. Abraham Adams by Henry Fielding, The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith, and The Life and opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne.