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The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

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A foundling of mysterious parentage brought up by Mr. Allworthy on his country estate, Tom Jones is deeply in love with the seemingly unattainable Sophia Western, the beautiful daughter of the neighboring squire—though he sometimes succumbs to the charms of the local girls. When Tom is banished to make his own fortune and Sophia follows him to London to escape an arranged A foundling of mysterious parentage brought up by Mr. Allworthy on his country estate, Tom Jones is deeply in love with the seemingly unattainable Sophia Western, the beautiful daughter of the neighboring squire—though he sometimes succumbs to the charms of the local girls. When Tom is banished to make his own fortune and Sophia follows him to London to escape an arranged marriage, the adventure begins. A vivid Hogarthian panorama of eighteenth-century life, spiced with danger and intrigue, bawdy exuberance and good-natured authorial interjections, Tom Jones is one of the greatest and most ambitious comic novels in English literature.    • Includes a chronology, suggestions for further reading, notes, glossary, and an appendix of Fielding's revisions    • Introduction discusses narrative tecniques and themes, the context of eighteenth-century fiction and satire, and the historical and political background of the Jacobite revolution For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


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A foundling of mysterious parentage brought up by Mr. Allworthy on his country estate, Tom Jones is deeply in love with the seemingly unattainable Sophia Western, the beautiful daughter of the neighboring squire—though he sometimes succumbs to the charms of the local girls. When Tom is banished to make his own fortune and Sophia follows him to London to escape an arranged A foundling of mysterious parentage brought up by Mr. Allworthy on his country estate, Tom Jones is deeply in love with the seemingly unattainable Sophia Western, the beautiful daughter of the neighboring squire—though he sometimes succumbs to the charms of the local girls. When Tom is banished to make his own fortune and Sophia follows him to London to escape an arranged marriage, the adventure begins. A vivid Hogarthian panorama of eighteenth-century life, spiced with danger and intrigue, bawdy exuberance and good-natured authorial interjections, Tom Jones is one of the greatest and most ambitious comic novels in English literature.    • Includes a chronology, suggestions for further reading, notes, glossary, and an appendix of Fielding's revisions    • Introduction discusses narrative tecniques and themes, the context of eighteenth-century fiction and satire, and the historical and political background of the Jacobite revolution For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

30 review for The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

  1. 5 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Who reads this and laughs not at all may be forgiven only as a simpleton, and does not comprehend. Who reads this and laughs but a little is too dour and prideful to be of much use, and only laughs when he cannot help it. Who reads this and laughs a score is the wretched false-wit, and only laughs when it suits his crowd. Who reads and laughs but once a chapter has a mirthful soul, if no great love for words. Who reads and laughs at every page shall be my boon companion, and a kiss for each grinning Who reads this and laughs not at all may be forgiven only as a simpleton, and does not comprehend. Who reads this and laughs but a little is too dour and prideful to be of much use, and only laughs when he cannot help it. Who reads this and laughs a score is the wretched false-wit, and only laughs when it suits his crowd. Who reads and laughs but once a chapter has a mirthful soul, if no great love for words. Who reads and laughs at every page shall be my boon companion, and a kiss for each grinning cheek. Who reads and laughs at twice and thrice a page shall be my worthy better, and may they forgive my endless queries.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    975. Tom Jones = The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, Henry Fielding The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, often known simply as Tom Jones, is a comic novel by the English playwright and novelist Henry Fielding. The novel is both a Bildungsroman and a picaresque novel. First published on 28 February 1749 in London, Tom Jones is among the earliest English prose works describable as a novel and is the earliest novel mentioned by W. Somerset Maugham in his 1948 book Great Novelists and Their Nove 975. Tom Jones = The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, Henry Fielding The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, often known simply as Tom Jones, is a comic novel by the English playwright and novelist Henry Fielding. The novel is both a Bildungsroman and a picaresque novel. First published on 28 February 1749 in London, Tom Jones is among the earliest English prose works describable as a novel and is the earliest novel mentioned by W. Somerset Maugham in his 1948 book Great Novelists and Their Novels among the ten best novels of the world. Totaling 346,747 words, it is divided into 18 smaller books, each preceded by a discursive chapter, often on topics unrelated to the book itself. It is dedicated to George Lyttleton. The kindly and wealthy Squire Allworthy and his sister Bridget are introduced in their wealthy estate in Somerset. Allworthy returns from London after an extended business trip and finds an abandoned baby sleeping in his bed. He summons his housekeeper, Mrs Deborah Wilkins, to take care of the child. After searching the nearby village, Mrs Wilkins is told about a young woman called Jenny Jones, servant of a schoolmaster and his wife, as the most likely person to have committed the deed. Jenny is brought before them and admits being the baby's mother but refuses to reveal the father's identity. Mr Allworthy mercifully removes Jenny to a place where her reputation will be unknown. Furthermore, he promises his sister to raise the boy, whom he names Thomas, in his household. ... characters: Tom Jones, Squire Allworthy, Sophia Western سرگذشت تام جونز: کودک سر راهی - هنری فیلدینگ (نیلوفر) ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و هفتم ماه فوریه سال 1984 میلادی عنوان: س‍رگ‍ذش‍ت‌ ت‍ام‌ ج‍ون‍ز ک‍ودک‌ س‍رراه‍ی؛ اثر: هن‍ری‌ ف‍ی‍ل‍دی‍ن‍گ‌؛ برگردان: اح‍م‍د ک‍ری‍م‍ی‌ ح‍ک‍اک‌؛ نشر: ت‍ه‍ران‌، ن‍ی‍ل‍وف‍ر‫،1361، در چ‍ه‍ل‌ و 809 ص؛ شابک چاپ سوم: 9789644480782؛ چاپ دوم: پاییز 1368، چاپ سوم: زمستان 1377، چاپ چهارم: 1388، موضوع: داستان‌های نویسندگان انگلیسی -- سده 18 م تام جونز، که عنوان کامل آن «سرگذشت تام جونز کودک سر راهی» است؛ در ردیف «دون کیشوت»، «تریسترام شندی»، و «ژاک قضا و قدری»، یعنی برجسته ترین کلاسیکهای تاریخ رمان قرار دارد. «تام جونز» نام کودکی سرراهی است، که در خانه ی «ارباب آلورتی» و تحت نظارت خواهر او: «بریژیت»، بزرگ شده است. کمی پس از پذیرشِ «تام»، «بریژیت» ازدواج میکند، و صاحب فرزندی به نام «بلایفیل» میشود. پس از کوتاه زمانی، پدر «بلایفیل» میمیرد، و او عملا وارث دارایی «آلورتی» میشود،. «تام» با آنکه تحت تعلیم و تربیتی مشابه «بلایفیل» بزرگ میشود، اما شخصیتی کاملا متفاوت از او را از خود نشان میدهد. «تام» پسری ساده دل، بازیگوش و ماجراجوست، و در مقابل «بلایفیل»: حسود، کینه توز، و محتاط است، و هیچ فرصتی را برای بدنام کردن «تام»، از دست نمیدهد. در همسایگی «آلورتی»، مردی زندگی میکند به نام: «وسترن»، او دختری زیبا به نام: «سوفیا» دارد. «تام» به «سوفیا» دل میبندد، و همزمان، در اثر بدخواهی «بلایفیل»، که او نیز مایل به ازدواج با «سوفیا»ست، از خانه «آلورتی» رانده میشود. «تام» در آغاز فصل دوازدهم از کتاب ششم ـ ناگزیر سفری اودیسه وار را به سوی لندن در پیش میگیرد. داستان «تام جونز» شامل هجده کتاب است، که هر یک عنوانی مخصوص به خود دارد. هر کتاب چند فصل است، که آنها نیز نامی دارند. تعداد فصلهای کتابها، از هفت تا پانزده متغیر است. بعضی از فصللها تنها یک صفحه را شامل میشود. ا. شربیانی

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Here's another wonderful 18th century novel that blows up the easy breezy Shibboleth of "show, don't tell." Here the narrator tells and tells, and I laughed and laughed, and the plot moved like a fine engine through adventure after misadventure.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Antonomasia

    2005 Penguin Classics edition For at least twenty years before I read Tom Jones, misleading book covers gave me the wrong impression of the hero. I had heard once or twice that it's actually the ladies who throw themselves at Jones [cue GIF of the Welsh singer with knicker-flinging audience] but this idea never quite stuck. A few years ago, I watched the 1960s film adaptation, which I think showed this, but it was silly and flimsy - it was Carry on 18th Century - and I didn't take it seriously. A 2005 Penguin Classics edition For at least twenty years before I read Tom Jones, misleading book covers gave me the wrong impression of the hero. I had heard once or twice that it's actually the ladies who throw themselves at Jones [cue GIF of the Welsh singer with knicker-flinging audience] but this idea never quite stuck. A few years ago, I watched the 1960s film adaptation, which I think showed this, but it was silly and flimsy - it was Carry on 18th Century - and I didn't take it seriously. As memory of it faded, my underlying feeling about the novel was again more strongly influenced by two and a half decades of UK book jackets, on which painted 18th-century rakes grab at women who look rather less keen than they do; in some cases the women are outright distressed. In current parlance, it all looks a bit rapey. In that lineage, the cover of this Penguin Classics edition showing Gillray's cartoon "Fashionable Contrasts" - an edition I otherwise recommend for its thorough notes and introduction - may also give an impression of a lady, er, imposed upon. (And over the last couple of years I've found the image more unpleasant than humorous due to Steve Bell's redrawing of it to feature Donald Trump and Theresa May.) There's "don't judge a book by its cover", and then there's a consistent pattern of themed images over 25 years, whose repetitiveness feels meaningful. Yes, it's an 18th-century novel by a man: obviously there are some strongly patriarchal attitudes in the text, and there are some characters who condone sexual violence. But the combo of covers plus general reputation of the book once added up in my mind to the erroneous idea that it's about a "loveable" rapist. That is flat-out wrong, and I would not be surprised if these covers have put off more readers than are fully aware of it - or at the very least they make some potential readers, still interested in the novel, think they need to approach it wearing heavy psychological armour, in expectation of some *very* old-fashioned values. Actually, Tom Jones is a genuinely nice, extrovert young lad with a puppyish enthusiasm for just about everything in life, and who wants to think the best of everyone - but he's also nearly incapable of turning down a woman who makes a move on him: most of his scrapes spiral from this. And like heroes of traditional romance or adventure stories, he has traffic-stopping good looks, charisma, a preternatural ability to master new fighting skills as needed, and is kind to children, animals and the poor. He is always (unlike those rakes on book covers) mindful of sexual consent, and although he is rescued fortuitously by his creator from one tricky moral dilemma with a girl early on, he otherwise stands out as being considerably more principled than his contemporaries. In contrast to certain bad-boy heroes of 19th century English literature, both Tom and his guardian Mr Allworthy - although they express a few patriarchal and snobbish attitudes - seem overall like decent men who would take on board contemporary attitudes of equality, and be able to practice them sincerely, if they found themselves living in a society where they were prevalent. The intersection of temperament and environment in creating people's attitudes was one of the things I thought about frequently while reading Tom Jones, imagining what various characters would be like if they were around today. Between this novel and a biography of Dickens I listened to in January, I concluded that this - a sense of how they might adapt - is more significant in the way I see people and characters from the past than the discrete yardstick of what they said at the time, in their environment. (Charles Dickens seemed like the type who would still throw his weight around in private, whilst presenting himself to an adoring public as a paragon of empathy and wisdom.) I love it when a book is set in the same season when I'm reading it, so December turned out to be the perfect time to begin Tom Jones, although I hadn't consciously planned it. (I'd read a few chapters years ago, pre-Goodreads, so I probably remembered subconsciously.) But even if it was winter both in the book and in reality, I was not expecting this other chilly England also to be a place where the whole population is divided between two political factions, facing an increasingly imminent national crisis; a country where, when meeting someone, you can't be quite sure which side they're on, and where, for the sake of a quiet life, it's often easier not to disclose your allegiance to strangers - although by not declaring you may end up hearing some strange stuff! One side is disdained by its opponents as irrational, dangerous, and fuelled by silly romanticised ideas, the other as haughty establishment snobs who want to continue imposing a status quo which involves a close relationship with Germany. And both have their trademark jargon and insults. I loved the insight into how this factionalism existed with pre-Industrial Revolution communications, and it was also oddly refreshing, because for all the dozens of articles I've seen about historical parallels for Brexit, precisely none has mentioned the '45 and the enduring Jacobite-Hanoverian rivalry: the high politics are clearly different from the present, but the public mood is, perhaps, another matter. That pre-Industrial Revolution setting was what I was craving when I started reading (and I still crave it - but self-imposed obligations to books previously started, and to group discussions, mean it has to go on hold for a while). And Tom Jones is replete with historical detail of a depth and atmosphere too rarely found in non-fiction history. Sometimes, nothing beats a voluminous primary source in which you incidentally hear dozens of little details of life: things like how it was to travel decades before trains, and when organised turnpikes were still quite new; the tribulations and sensations of riding unpaved roads on horses in winter; how things worked at a coaching inn; the mess of vice that a late-17th century university student might get into if he went off the rails (the Man of the Hill); or gradations of reputation among London society ladies. And cliché though this is, because it's a story, and from a world its writer lived in, it utterly brings this world to life. The typography in this Penguin edition adds to the sense of being transported to another time. (It uses the original capitalisation - of every Noun. I don't think I've been so aware of what was a noun in each sentence since I was at school.) The novelty of this, as a 20th-21st century reader used to capitals only at the start of a sentence, also increased my concentration - a definite bonus with a long book of this age, and something I will be looking for if I read other 18th century novels. There are some passages where a concentration boost is indubitably helpful. The reflective and philosophical Chapter I's of each of the XVIII Books of Tom Jones, in which Fielding pontificates at the reader, grow repetitive as, after a few outings, Fielding's views on the literary scene, on various matters of human behaviour, and his unsurprising snobbery are perfectly evident, and further repetition hardly required - even if you do enjoy this absurdly self-aware style which is called post-modernism, but which existed long before literary modernism ever did. Details of the opinions of the two tutors, Square and Thwackum, on one level are very interesting as a snapshot of intellectual and religious history of the early Enlightenment, but are also, frankly, rather dry. But that is a small proportion of this huge book. Over all it is often hugely entertaining: rollicking bawdy fun, with a confluence of depth, intelligence and silliness I associate with contemporary postmodernists (some, admirers of this book) like Thomas Pynchon. And it's the most hilarious pre-20th century book I've read. Its only competitor on that count is The Diary of a Nobody (1892). (Three Men in a Boat was a smiling rather than laughing sort of humour for me.) Grossmith perhaps would still win on density of funny scenes, due to his book being much shorter. But The History of Tom Jones was one of the best, most rewarding reading experiences I've ever had, with its virtuosic authorial control and construction, amply laced with metafictional commentary (control only diminishes towards the end, like an envelope addressed in exquisite handwriting which goes a bit squashed near the right-hand side so that everything fits), its immersive historical detail *and* farcical scenes which made me laugh spontaneously and uncontrollably. Is there another character in literature quite like Squire Weston? This hilarious, and this terrifying? It would be a nightmare to be related to him, and his rages and controlling caprices. And it would be vexing even to deal with him as another man of his own rank (a task which Allworthy manages with great diplomacy and firmness). But he is also a one-man farce, and the main player in several of the scenes which made me snort and gasp with the sort of involuntary laughter many people think just doesn't happen when reading a 270 year-old book. (I'm writing this paragraph about two months after finishing the book, and they are still the funniest things I've read in fiction this year or last year, and I wish I could re-read them now.) I felt guilty about laughing so much given that Western was such a brute - treating his daughter as literal property in a society which gave her negligible legal protection. But I remembered, a little over ten years ago, a therapist bursting into unintentional laughter when I talked about an incident for which I was on the receiving end of adult rage as a child, and I found this a great epiphany. (The adult was being ridiculous, and what I'd done was funny and silly, not terrible.) Laughing at Western can be a way of disparaging his monstrous ego. I thought GR reviews would have a lot to say about the female characters in Tom Jones, but few of the reviews go into detail about any aspect of the book. The novel is sometimes more progressive than I expected in its view of women, at others very much "of its time". Fielding, as narrator, is adamant that parents should allow their children to marry for love, and not force them into dynastically advantageous matches. (I wish I'd been able to get hold of a good biography of Fielding to find out whether his attempted abduction of heiress Sarah Andrews, when he was 18, was an attempted elopement, or an actual kidnapping. Whatever the story behind that was, this novel has the narrative voice of a man who has found that the road of excess led to the palace of wisdom - as he also shows in the bewitching episode about the reclusive Man on the Hill.) The majority of contemporary readers find the 'good girls' of 18th-19th century fiction - like Sophia Western - to be dull and inspid and not so much people as ciphers. Though I can't but see them as people who had cracked the social codes of their time and who had temperaments which adapted to them more easily than more wilful and louder individuals might. Sophia has a few hard limits which she defends with great willpower, and outside those she is engaged in learning the ways of her society. It is easier to imagine how Sophia becomes Sophia in the world of the 18th century gentry, than to see exactly how her Aunt Western became a proto-feminist, or how Lady Bellaston became a libertine - these paths took more active deviation from the prescribed social roles. Fielding's sympathy for early feminists is only partial: he agrees with the argument that forced marriage was a form of slavery, but his narrative undermines Aunt Western's stance by showing her mistakes in Classical learning (similar to those of the low-grade teacher Partridge). However unfortunate she may be as a symbol to contemporary eyes, I don't find her implausible: women had less access to education than their brothers, and just because one had the inclination and rare means to become an independent woman at the time, it does not follow that one was necessarily academic. There is also a highly intelligent woman in the novel, in the person of former maid Jenny Jones - and although she makes some progress on the social ladder, one can infer that her possibilities remained somewhat limited by her class. She is subject to little censure in the narrative, and her story is at least as picaresque as Tom's. (I think there would be a great fun tribute novel in Jenny Jones, if only someone would turn their hand from Austen pastiche to Fielding.) A critical appraisal might decry Fielding's lens on the female characters, but I found it exciting simply to hear about them in a narrative from the time (not non-fiction history) that was such a wonder to read in itself - as well as about intellectual landmarks like Astellian feminism - Mary Astell's Reflections upon Marriage, of 1706 - which are now obscure, but which were significant for pre-Wollestonecraft literate women. (My secret shame when studying history was that, however much I was fascinated by the pre-20th century past, I found too many of its primary written sources dull when read at length, so I am, still, frankly, overjoyed if I find something written in a captivating style that allows me to immerse myself in material of an earlier time, especially when it's pre-Industrial Revolution.) There is a glorious panorama of characters here, from fine ladies of all reputes, to innkeepers, to maids, all with their distinct personalities and histories - characters bigger than their confines and their author's opinions - and I love knowing this is how they seemed at the time. This feels far more real, and I treasure it more, than most historical novels. (Every time I returned to this review, which I've been writing in bits and pieces between late January and late March, I became desperate to read more 18th century classics instead of all the contemporary ephemera I've been concentrating on for a prize longlist project, but they will have to wait.) Intellectual history is present in Tom Jones not only in proto-feminism, but in other areas too. It was a marvel, pretty much as close as I'll get to time travel, to witness the ferment of shifting belief described in the later part of classic history text Religion and the Decline of Magic. Characters' conversations show it, and for the most part naturally - not the clumsy exposition of the sort of historical fiction that has swallowed several shelves of a library undigested. Toleration of Catholics is emerging, as is Methodism. One may also be an atheist Enlightement type looking to the Classics rather than to the Christian God, as is Mr Square. And superstition lives, in people with a clear and present fear of ghosts and other supernatural goings on, including among those with some education, who might be termed the lower middle-class. People could believe a number of different things and fit in somewhere in this society, while 100 years earlier or later, some of those beliefs would be unacceptable or at least dismissed outside narrower social strata. An intoxicating time, and one I wish I'd studied more. Even now (wrapping up this post in late March) I feel a little dizzied that I actually finished this book. A book I read a bit of in 2011 and thought I may never manage to go back to. A book 10-20 times longer than the novellas I mostly read these days. A book which, judging by Kindle counts, may be the second-longest I've ever read after War and Peace; I read all the introductions and notes and appendices, so those count too. They are integral to a big old text like this and you'd have to be an expert scholar to get as much out of the novel without them on a first-time read. The notes put me in awe of the scholarship of the late Fielding expert Martin Battestin, on whose work many of the notes are based - he has connected numerous obscure events and publications with references in the novel, as if he'd set about reading all extant works published in England in the first half of the 18th century, whilst holding every sentence of Fielding's work in memory. I would strongly recommend this Penguin edition if you want an immersive novel-as-time travel experience without skimping on academic background. The typography augments the feeling of being in the 18th century in a way the modernised Oxford does not. The introduction addresses the novel's and the author's relationship to the legal system of the time - this is analysis that originates from specialist academic work and which, unlike commentary on, e.g. class and gender, is outwith the toolkit of the average humanities graduate. And the notes are thorough and usually interesting in content (relatively few give nothing but the origin of a quotation). There was only a small handful of points which I thought lacked annotation; most of these related to fashion or domestic matters. In 2018, I was motivated to read Tom Jones by one of the stranger reasons a British reader must have had for it. I've been belatedly exploring Polish literature, as part of my heritage; I wanted to read what has been described as the first Polish novel - and is at any rate the earliest translated to English, The Adventures of Nicholas Wisdom. But it's heavily influenced by Tom Jones and Tristram Shandy, and, as a native English speaker, I'd be doing things the wrong way round if I read it without having read them first. As it turned out, Tom Jones was such immense fun, it was absolutely worth reading it for its own sake, as if that wasn't already obvious enough from the overbrimming enthusiasm in this review. I could see why the young Dickens (who read Tom Jones as a preteen) was so enthralled by it - and having lately re-read A Christmas Carol and listened to the aforementioned audiobook biography, the degree of this novel's influence on Dickens was unmistakeable - and through Dickens' vast popularity, its influence on much of subsequent English literature and comedy as a whole. But yes, if you think that you might like this book, please don't put it off as long as I did, and give it a go when next you can - it is very much worth the time. (read Dec 2018-Jan 2019; reviewed Jan-March 2019)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    Fielding being mentioned, Johnson exclaimed, ‘he was a blockhead;’ and upon my expressing astonishment at so strange an assertion, he said ‘What I mean by his being a blockhead is that he was a barren rascal.’ BOSWELL. ‘Will you not allow, Sir, that he draws very natural pictures of human life?’ JOHNSON. ‘Why, Sir, it is of very low life.’ James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson I have been Tom Jones (a child’s Tom Jones, a harmless creature) for a week altogether. Charles Dickens, David Copperfi Fielding being mentioned, Johnson exclaimed, ‘he was a blockhead;’ and upon my expressing astonishment at so strange an assertion, he said ‘What I mean by his being a blockhead is that he was a barren rascal.’ BOSWELL. ‘Will you not allow, Sir, that he draws very natural pictures of human life?’ JOHNSON. ‘Why, Sir, it is of very low life.’ James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson I have been Tom Jones (a child’s Tom Jones, a harmless creature) for a week altogether. Charles Dickens, David Copperfield Imagine you are at a dreadful party. (If you’re like me, this will not be a difficult task.) The conversation is stale, the beer is staler, and there isn’t even anyone to flirt with. You go to the bathroom out of boredom, and then wander aimlessly through the house for the same reason. In a back room, far removed from the other party guests, you find a man watching a movie. He’s laughing, laughing so hard he’s in tears, and hardly has the breath to say “hello” when he sees you. “Oh, sorry,” he says when he catches his breath. “Excuse me, please. This movie, I love it. Would you care to join me?” Not having anything else to do, you gratefully accept, despite his rascally and unkempt appearance. Indeed, the moment you get a closer look at him, you see that he’s dressed in a tattered jacket and wears a patchy beard. But he's smiling amiably, and in any case there’s no turning back now. The fellow kindly consents to start the film from the beginning. But not five minutes go by before he pauses it with the remote. “Let me tell you about that man there,” he says confidentially, pointing to the man on the screen. “He is a man most delicate. When he’s on set—” He breaks off to stifle a giggle. “When he’s on set, he moisturizes his hands between every take, it’s true, and refuses to shoot unless they have his very special type of moisturizer." This is amusing enough, so you forgive the interruption. But three minutes later, he does it again with another actor. And again, and again. Gradually it comes out that this man is the director of this very movie. He knows everybody’s secret foibles and peculiarities—the actors, make-up artists, and even the extras—and can’t resist spilling all to a willing ear. At first you are very annoyed at these interruptions, and begin to contrive an excuse to get away. But the man is full of such charm and good nature, he is so devoid of malice and peevishness of any kind, he is so earthy and kindly, so tolerant and worldly-wise, that you are soon won over. After a short while, you don’t mind these interruptions at all; in fact you prefer them to the film (which, you admit to yourself, could be better). The man soon gets carried away, going on wild tangents during which he begins again to cry with laughter, and soon you’re in tears too. This man has really seen everything, done everything. He has met and lived among so many people, and in the process has developed a keen relish for human nature, with all its infelicities and weaknesses, in all its many varieties. Yes, this man is quite literally in love with humanity, passionately in love, and with the smile of a knowing paramour he describes every eccentricity of his fiery, flawed mistress. You fall so completely under this man's spell that you forget everything. You don’t move once from your seat; you don’t check your watch. You laugh yourself silly, drinking up every observation and story and joke. Suddenly, the man gets up. “Well, I’m tired old boy, I think I’d better go.” You check your watch. Eight whole hours have gone by! Everyone else must be asleep by now. The man warmly shakes your hand, and, without more ado, walks straight out of the house. And as you stand there, gathering your thoughts and preparing to leave, you realize he’s not once told you his name. This is the closest I can get to representing the experience of reading Tom Jones. I don’t think I need say anything more. This novel is an open book. It requires no preface, it keeps no secrets. The book demands nothing but time and good humor. Unless you are a studied misanthrope or a certain species of snob (as was Samuel Johnson), I can’t see why you wouldn’t enjoy it every bit as much as I did. Although long, it seldom drags. Although old, it hardly seems dated. To the contrary, I think this book has aged remarkably well. Fielding’s general attitude struck me as so modern and liberal minded, in fact, that parts of the book seemed like they were written by some contemporary wit, impersonating an 18th century English novelist. I would also like to add an encomium to the narrator of my audiobook, Kenneth Danzinger. From what I can tell, this is the only book he has ever narrated. Who is he? I can’t find a thing about him from a Google search.* I am intrigued, because this is easily the best-narrated audiobook I have had the good fortune to listen to. The man is fantastic! I wish I could give him some sort of award; but sadly I can only give him my praise and thanks. So if you, like me, are intimidated by this novel’s length and age, do yourself a favor and listen to Danzinger’s version. Listening to it is as easy as drinking cool water on a summer's day. *It appears that Kenneth's last name is misspelled on the Audible site. There is a voice actor by the name of Kenneth Danziger but none answering to Danzinger. But could nobody have caught that?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    If a crazed literature professor ever holds a gun to your head and threatens to pull the trigger if you don’t read one of two interminable, gazillion-page satirical British novels (that would be Vanity Fair of the 19th Century or Tom Jones of the 18th Century), I recommend you choose Tom Jones. Tom Jones is more original (some say it’s the first modern novel), ‘way funnier than VF, and even has a few naughty bits to make you giggle—though tame by modern standards. To read Vanity Fair, you need t If a crazed literature professor ever holds a gun to your head and threatens to pull the trigger if you don’t read one of two interminable, gazillion-page satirical British novels (that would be Vanity Fair of the 19th Century or Tom Jones of the 18th Century), I recommend you choose Tom Jones. Tom Jones is more original (some say it’s the first modern novel), ‘way funnier than VF, and even has a few naughty bits to make you giggle—though tame by modern standards. To read Vanity Fair, you need to brush up your Napoleonic Wars. For Tom Jones, you need to brush up just a bit on your Jacobites, and that conflict isn’t quite so central to the story, so, in that way, Tom Jones is a bit less work. Vanity Fair really is about vanity. Tom Jones is about human nature, as Fielding reminds you again and again in his amusing “blowhard author” introductions to each of the books in the novel. If you think, reading these introductions, that they are ridiculous and irrelevant and you don’t want to read them, Fielding gives you a pass, saying in one of the early introductions that they are indeed ridiculous and superfluous to the story and you don’t have to read them if you don’t want to. He also has a passage of a physician opining unintelligibly about a patient that could be coming out of the mouth of a 21st century physician opining unintelligibly about a patient. One of the hallmarks of a classic is timelessness. This book is timeless, and, for the most part, hilarious.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Perry

    Around the world the trip begins with a kiss "Roam," The B-52's, 1989 I enjoyed this 1749 comic novel follows the life and adventures of young Tom Jones in a picaresque panorama of 18th-century Britain. Squire Allworthy found Tom in his bed as a newborn infant. The kind but gullible Allworthy raises Tom, who falls in love with the attractive neighbor Sophia Western. Unfortunately, Sophia's irascible, short-tempered dad has agreed, against Sophia's wishes, to give her hand in marriage to Squire A Around the world the trip begins with a kiss "Roam," The B-52's, 1989 I enjoyed this 1749 comic novel follows the life and adventures of young Tom Jones in a picaresque panorama of 18th-century Britain. Squire Allworthy found Tom in his bed as a newborn infant. The kind but gullible Allworthy raises Tom, who falls in love with the attractive neighbor Sophia Western. Unfortunately, Sophia's irascible, short-tempered dad has agreed, against Sophia's wishes, to give her hand in marriage to Squire Allworthy's repulsive and hateful nephew Blifil. Blifil's contrivances combined with Tom's boyish excesses cause Allworthy to expel Tom from the Allworthy estate, which throws Tom into a series of adventures over and around a series of obstacles in order to learn the mystery of his birth, gain his fortune and win Sophia's hand. Roam if you want to / without anything but the love we feel

  8. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    [2016's entry for my "Big-Ass Summer Read" shelf.] Some books stand before us like mountains, daring us to cast the first hooks and lines and pierce its imposing walls with ice ax and spiked boots and ascend. Though the challenge is certainly there on the lower slopes -- there are boulders and loose gravel to stump the overconfident -- things seem genial enough, the cracks and the outcroppings give us enough to work with and there's sufficient flat ground for respite. But Henry Fielding's The His [2016's entry for my "Big-Ass Summer Read" shelf.] Some books stand before us like mountains, daring us to cast the first hooks and lines and pierce its imposing walls with ice ax and spiked boots and ascend. Though the challenge is certainly there on the lower slopes -- there are boulders and loose gravel to stump the overconfident -- things seem genial enough, the cracks and the outcroppings give us enough to work with and there's sufficient flat ground for respite. But Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling is no easy climb -- to say the least -- among the 8,000-meter peaks of literature. Not only are there sheer walls of slick ice and sudden avalanches, but there are other seemingly endless obstacles and diversionary paths that make the ascent seem longer than it ought. And to make things more interesting, Fielding seems to have coated the ice with an additional layer of oil. That's what his reader is up against, and what Fielding's protagonist, the bastard foundling Tom Jones, faces in his uphill and seemingly hopeless quest to be united with his lost love, Sophia Western, in a life journey that encompasses for most of its length a picaresque series of raucous episodes on the dusty, dangerous roads from Somersetshire to London and back again. As the story circles back on itself and resolves a slew of prolific and intricate complications, the reader must endure indulgent authorial digressions, endless plot tangents and seemingly insoluble conundrums, all laid out in the most florid clause-laden sentences. This frequent impedance of progress is one of the aspects that makes ...Tom Jones one of the most polarizing of the great classics among readers. It is one of the most digressive books in literature, as well as one of the most convoluted in expression. Very few other books have raised the hackles or caused kanipshins among frustrated contemporary readers as this book has. Yet, for all that, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling remains one of the masterworks, and one of the great reading experiences of my life -- and also one of the toughest; a bear of a novel, that nonetheless remains one of the wisest and most observant ever penned about the nature of human motivations, how people think and act in the social polity, how motives can so easily become misconstrued, and how morality can be so misattributed and misunderstood, misinterpreted and misapplied. The book pokes fun at just about every institution and social convention in England in the 18th century. Hardly a profession or class from the clergy to lawyers to politicians to artists and writers to doctors to nobles and commoners are left unscathed. The character of Tom Jones, the lusty rake, allows Fielding a template for an epic examination of the true nature of morality. Though Jones is a womanizer and a brawler, his situations and adventures seem more forced upon him by circumstance than not, and at the end of the day his journey in the human parade proves him to be the better man to those society (or they themselves) so righteously or self-righteously have more surely dubbed as good and proper and wholesome and moral. Hypocrisy is one of Fielding's bullseyes, and he hits it with the skill of a cosmic archer. ...Tom Jones is also a generous book toward the human race, for even as it skewers and lays bare its underlying hypocrisies it also posits that there is good or the potential for it in even the worst of us, and Fielding remained ever the optimist. Even as Fielding allows his protagonist Tom Jones an innate sense of true moral centeredness, it is Squire Allworthy, the adoptive father of the rollicking bastard foundling, who is the moral center of the novel. Allworthy is a charitable man, far more so than his neighbors, and even when he seems to do Jones an injustice, it is one we can understand. Bad intelligence and misinformation often inform misjudgment. Allworthy represents what Christianity should be, and what it frequently is not in the present age of Right-wing politics. Through Allworthy, Fielding examines the nature of balanced judgment, generosity, humility, patience, charity and forgiveness. Although Allworthy is too often let down by his tendency to give the benefit of the doubt, Fielding sees this as clearly better than the snap judgments and petty revels in the misery of fellow humans that Allworthy's associates seem all too eager to exhibit. Fielding clearly understands the vices borne of hubris. After Squire Allworthy's crude neighbor, Squire Western, commits yet another his petty acts, Fielding allows his good squire this lovely moment that beautifully encapsulates both his generosity and sad sense of resignation: "His smiles at folly were indeed such as we may suppose the angels bestow on the absurdities of mankind." One of the book's true surprises is its slight but very palpable sense of proto-feminism, certainly antiquated by today's standards but advanced and enlightened for the 18th century (it was the Age of Enlightenment) and probably just as shocking at the time as the book's social criticisms and frank sexuality. Most of the women in the book, including the servants, seem more intelligent than most of the men, and that is certainly the case for Mrs. Western, easily the intellectual superior of her brother the squire. Although she operates within the confines of social expectation, she also possesses a defensive spirit of sisterhood. Her desire to obtain the best match for Squire Western's daughter and her niece, Sophia, may be in its own way misguided, but is motivated by sensitivity and a true desire for protectiveness. Even within the confines of the stifling social patriarchy and its imperatives, Fielding does recognize a woman's right to keep her own counsel and have her own reasons, and to not have those thwarted or abused by men. After Squire Western has locked up his daughter yet again to prevent her from running away from an arranged match, Mrs. Western says this: "How, brother, have I ever given you the least reason to imagine I should commend you for locking up your daughter? Have I not often told you that women in a free country are not to be treated with such arbitrary power? We are as free as the men, and I heartily wish that I could not say we deserve that freedom better." Fielding laments the situation of women, especially beautiful ones such as the virginal Sophia, who, once they become known to the universe of potential suitors become, as he says, like hares to the hunters. (A not in-apt metaphor, since the squires all seem to fancy fox hunting). Sophia is under siege to a social order with a siege mentality, and Fielding's sensitivity to this condition of women is striking and even poignant. Women, he says, can make up their minds, and it doesn't matter what their reasons are; they are their reasons. Stalking, he posits, is clearly not cool. Thus, the following: "It is certainly a vulgar error, that aversion in a woman may be conquered by perseverance." (p.645, Allworthy to failed suitor Master Blifil) When Lord Fellamar presses Sophie for reasons for his rejection, Sophia informs him that she has the right to her independent preference, and does not owe any explanation to him or any man. Fielding also challenges the notion of the virtuous woman. Even though he extols Sophia as an exemplar of such, he also informs those readers who may be in the dark about the realities of the real passions that exist beneath the veneer of polite society. Lady Bellaston and several other women in the book in their lusty behaviors point to this. Thus: "I remember the character of a young lady of quality, which was condemned on the stage for being unnatural, by the unanimous voice of a very large assembly of clerks and apprentices; though it had previous suffrages of many ladies of the first rank; one of whom, very eminent for her understanding, declared it was the picture of half the young people of her acquaintance." p. 277 That women frequently find themselves with child, and often abandoned, is the shame of men more than the women, Fielding avers, though it is almost always the women who bear the brunt of the slut shaming. Likewise, social intolerance for the children of unwed alliances, is attacked by Fielding. No child, he says, can be characterized or judged by the acts of the parents. Along the way, Fielding takes laser-sharp aim at the tragedy of bad marriages, ones often the result of convenient arrangement that have nothing to do with love or the wills of the betrothed. Fielding also examines friendships, those that are real and those with ulterior motives. Even the "real" ones can possess aspects of the latter. Fielding understands it's a complicated world. I especially enjoyed Jones' relationship with his unlikely Sancho Panza-like road-buddy sidekick, Mr. Partridge (a deeper relationship than can be revealed here), partly because of Partridge's alternation of pettiness and honest loyalty. (A Don Quixote comparison is not far-fetched, as Sophia almost represents Tom's unattainable windmill). When I made my first stab at reading this 32 years ago, and abandoned it at page 465 due to the intercession of life (in the intervening years I had a professional career, a marriage, a family, a house, mortgage, two cars, pets, innumerable obligations, divorce, love affairs, and bankruptcy), I had placed dozens of slips of paper between the pages to bookmark that book's many nuggets of wisdom. My inexperienced twenty-something self, it seemed, honed in nicely on some of the best insights. I cannot possibly reproduce them all here, but rather offer a few of my favorites: "A treacherous friend is the most dangerous enemy; and I will say boldly, that both religion and virtue have received more real discredit from hypocrites than the wittiest profligates or infidels could ever cast upon them."p.71 "[he] was as honest as men who love money better than any other thing in the universe generally are." p211 "... zeal can no more hurry a man to act in direct opposition to itself, than a rapid stream can carry a boat against its own current." p.276 "Nature having wisely contrived that some satiety and languor should be annexed to all our real enjoyments, lest we should be so taken up by them as to be stopped from further pursuits." p. 505 The book's main conceit, of course, is that love conquers all and is the supreme basis for marriage, and in that pursuit Fielding puts us through the ringer of placing the seemingly unreachable carrot before the horse. He is a cocktease of the first order, a rug-puller of almost cruel proportions. As I've stated before, the book is digressive to the max, with Fielding constantly interceding with long-winded authorial intrusions and an apparent aversion to getting to the point. But this is the way of this book; it is a conversation, or more accurately, an intimate sojourn between a storyteller and a guest. We are the guest(s). Because of the book's leisurely quality and its antiquated mode of expression (as well as its sheer length), I can only recommend ...Tom Jones to advanced and patient adult readers. The idea that this book is still forced on kids in high school or in undergraduate college courses is actually a shame, because it's clearly too much to expect of them at a time when the inculcation of a love of reading should be education's main object. I feel this book is best taken as a no-pressure project, one best suited for adults who've lived a little and can appreciate its overarching life themes. The first 100 pages are the toughest, I'll admit. The main plot moves (however fitfully) after that. This is a book that I committed to, and formed an intimate relationship with. It cannot be rushed, and if it is, you will get pissed. The book possibly suffers from its reputation as a "sexy" book (because that raises certain expectations that are sure to be dashed in the reader), and those who emphasize the rollicking, raunchy episodes seem to me to miss the forest for the trees, since Tom's rolls in the hay and manly brawls are actually quite infrequent. This is mainly a book of conversations in drawing rooms and alehouses and in the course of slow travels along the byways. Fielding is nothing if not a master of the tangential, the side trip, the delayed gratification, the plotter for whom the witty point and the moral exploration are the real nuggets to be found within his unwieldy and self-satisfied effusions. Fielding would rather explore all the trails of the forest in getting from points A to B, picking up the rocks looking for overlooked goodies, even if the trails more or less look all the same and have the same species of trees. Long before Monty Python's Eric Idle, Henry Fielding was Britain's premier nudge-nudge, wink-and-nod bloke -- poking us in our ribs and verbally peppering us with his own self-satisfied japes and insinuations and asides, mercilessly and relentlessly. Unlike Idle's sketch characterization, though, I don't find Fielding annoying. I find him a jolly fellow, a convivial companion for story telling by a stone-hearth fire while mutually sipping at generous goblets of aged sherry. He is in no hurry to get where he's going, and if you're willing to sink yourself deeply into a plush chair and intoxicate yourself on his generously offered brew, you will enjoy the slowly savored fruits and the lengthily pondered sights of the languid journey with him. One can imagine his library containing a well-thumbed copy of Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler and writing his own fish stories in the side margins, for this gent is not an inconsiderable braggart, taking on his critics before they've even spoken, tearing down the fourth wall between him, them and us. He is a rapper in a powered wig -- even to the point of dissing his authorial rivals -- and we're not entirely sure that what's in his snuff box ain't yeyo. The History and Adventures of Tom Jones, A Foundling remains one of the most fun of the dusty classics. At the outset, Fielding compares his confection to a well-spiced meal, warning those readers about to come to his table that the spices therein might affront their timid tastes. This tapas meal is not one to rush through, but to savor. This is not a football and nachos experience. It doesn't pander to your impatience. It is not merely the book's frank discussions of sexual mores that make it potent, though, but its underlying social criticism. He nails the smug hypocrisy of many self-proclaimed Christian moralists and an attendant mob conformist mentality -- the uncharitable and judgmental thoughts and acts that are counter to their professed religion -- while at the same time showing a complicated kind of respect of people who turn the other cheek and help their "lessers," even as he mocks them slightly for their naivete. Even the best people in Fielding have their bugaboos. In the introduction of the final chapter when Fielding writes his literal, direct and simple "fare thee well" to the reader (to me, in essence) -- I was moved almost to tears, because I felt the sense of companionship with someone from 300 years ago, someone who could not have fathomed a stranger in 2016 sharing the moment across time. Tonight when I have an ale, Mr. Fielding, I will raise a glass to you. (KR@KY 2016) ----- The official "Big-Ass Summer Read" shelf entry for 2016. (There is a chance that Infinite Jest might join it. Two big-ass summer reads of this magnitude would be unprecedented for me.)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This is a wonderful book. It'll make you laugh over and over and it is written like no other book I've read in that the narrator talks to the reader throughout, but not directly. It's a long book but it never gets boring. You'll fall in love with more than one character and it is just a book not to be missed. I can also highly recommend the audiobook on Audible. Can't recall the narrator's name now, but I'll edit it in later (ETA: Kenneth Danzinger - priceless!). Just wonderful. Thanks to Fiona This is a wonderful book. It'll make you laugh over and over and it is written like no other book I've read in that the narrator talks to the reader throughout, but not directly. It's a long book but it never gets boring. You'll fall in love with more than one character and it is just a book not to be missed. I can also highly recommend the audiobook on Audible. Can't recall the narrator's name now, but I'll edit it in later (ETA: Kenneth Danzinger - priceless!). Just wonderful. Thanks to Fiona for being a relentless book pusher, as I'd have never given this a real try without her insistence and to Heather for reading this with me, it was great fun.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

    Ford Maddox Ford on Tom Jones ; from The March of Literature. “...only paralleled in nauseous prurience and hypocrisy by the introductions to chapters of Fielding’s Tom Jones.” (498) “...has always seemed to the writer to be one of the most immoral books ever written...” (ibid) “...if you are lousy, and I use the word on purpose, you will live like a louse and, if there is a hell, go to hell. And what other word could describe Tom Jones--the miserable parasite who was forever wreathed, whining abou Ford Maddox Ford on Tom Jones ; from The March of Literature. “...only paralleled in nauseous prurience and hypocrisy by the introductions to chapters of Fielding’s Tom Jones.” (498) “...has always seemed to the writer to be one of the most immoral books ever written...” (ibid) “...if you are lousy, and I use the word on purpose, you will live like a louse and, if there is a hell, go to hell. And what other word could describe Tom Jones--the miserable parasite who was forever wreathed, whining about his benefactor’ knees, whose one idea of supporting himself was to borrow money simultaneously from his heart’s adored and two mistresses, and who was such a miserable hero of romance that in a dueling age he could not even handle a rapier?” (572) “Some years ago this writer wrote a little history of the English novel in which in the course of a much milder scarification of Fielding than what is above written he had occasion to quote a late librarian of the House of Lords and great official Anglo-Saxon accepted critic as saying that Tom Jones came into the stuffy scene of ordinary life like the pure breath of a May morning! And for this, if you please, this writer was stigmatized as ‘vitriolic’--nothing less!--by (and that is what is extraordinary!) the chief Roman Catholic organ of the United States...” (572-3) “Mr. Austin Dobson in one of his unbuttoned moments commits himself to the dictum that Tom Jones has been the model of all manly British fiction since his day. But it is difficult to think of any writers later than Thackeray who can have been much under the influence of Fielding.” (580) “Tom Jones, on the other hand, makes in its Preface no claim at all to moralizing aims. On the contrary, the author announces that all his skill has been devoted in this book to delighting the reader--as if he had been at a banquet.” (581) “But, to certain minds, writing like that of Tom Jones is teasing and worrying in the extreme.” (583) “In fact, compared with the rather tinny note of heartlessness of Tom Jones, the note of Amelia is one of compassion and concern for poor humanity” (584) “An author ought to be omniscient as far as his tale is concerned or he has no right to write his tale. And it is an untruth too because Fielding must have known in what parish his Mr. Booth was arrested.” (585) [in regard to Amelia, but too rich not to produce here] “In the case of Tom Jones, the story is so negligible and the incidents are invented with such listlessness that we have to regard the tale as a mere string on which are threaded the pearls of Mr. Fielding’s--cousin to the Right Honorable the Earl of Denbigh--Mr. Fielding, the man about town’s, wit. As such, for people who like the sort of thing, Tom Jones may well pass as a masterpiece-=-perhaps only of the second rank, this being an order of criticism of which we have little the habit. It is then less ebullient than Rabelais, less obscenely divergent than Tristram Shandy, less lewd in cruelty than the Sentimental Journey, less humane than Don Quichote, less ferociously realist than the Satyrikon, which in its determination to ‘make you see’ gives you a night in the streets of Rome that once read can never fade from the memory...and it is less profuse in moralizations than Fielding’s own Amelia.” (586) “For no author with a real passion for his coming projection will begin his novel with an exordium calling attention to the artificiality of his convention any more than any author with any passion for what he has projected will end up his novel with snufflingly calling attention to the fact that the tale is only a tale. Consider, in this respect, Thackeray; how, directly imitating Fielding, he ruins whole books of his......” (587) “But the truth is that both Thackeray all his life and Fielding in Tom Jones were intent first of all on impressing on their readers that they were not real novelists... but gentlemen.” (ibid) “It is curious to consider how the mind when thinking on Tom Jones considers it as a wilderness of interpolations. Yet actually it is a matter of a hundred and six closely printed pages before Fielding interrupts his story for the first time. And when he does so he indicates plainly enough that it is only through sheer incapacity to carry on his story as a story...or out of a fear that the moral of that story has not made itself plain.” (ibid) “In the same way he had intended to make of Tom Jones a straight and spirited narration until he found that he could not swing it and, against his will, introduced himself into his own pages.” (588) “And having satisfied himself that his self-introduction would give no offence, from that moment onwards Fielding gave himself carte blanche and pirouetted and winked across his pages whenever--and that was often enough--the mood occurred to him.” (ibid) “And one would be curmudgeonly, indeed, if one grudged as much to the clever and full-blooded. It is merely that--as Mr. Stalin lately remarked of Mr. Trotsky--his practices were not in themselves wrong save in that they were untimely. In any other form but that of the novel this passage would make agreeable reading, but coming as it does at the very crisis of one of the only two at all excitingly rendered passages in the book it is per se simply disastrous.” (ibid) “It must, in short, be apparent to the most unpracticed reader that this adventure of Mr. Jones made a lively scene and that, by cutting it up in the middle, Fielding effectually scotched it.” (589) spoiler :: “Had Mr. Fielding done, as many of his successors had the skill to do--namely, put in a little picture of children and Newfoundland dogs tumbling together on a lawn he would have done much more to assure us that his Sophia really did achieve a measure of wedded bliss.” (590) “Yet the prose of Tom Jones is rather good prose for the eighteenth century.” (592) And knowing that FMF blamed Cervantes for single-handedly bringing to an end the only hope of humanity’s salvation, namely chivalry, you’ll see how wrong FMF is. Just simply wrong. But we can’t blame him. He did not live long enough to learn how to read the kind of novel Tom Jones is, nor those listed above from the same Grand Tradition (Ms Young’s phrase) ; that is, he did not live long enough to learn from John Barth and Raymond Federman about what a novel is and what a novel can do. Fielding is not a proto-postmodern fictionist ; he is an eighteenth century fictionist and postmodernists like Barth revisited his kind of fiction in order to breath life back into the novel, the life which had left it due to the overwhelmingly stultifying effect modernist impressionism of the FMF type had upon the novel’s own-most possibilities. The Novel is dead! Long live the Novel! ______________________ Compendiusly Nipping Pastiche. Clearseeing. Tom Jones is hands down the dumbest book ever written. Just tedium punctuated with banalities. I have to draw the line somewhere, and I draw it at Henry Fielding's feet. When we were done covering it in high school, one kid threw it out the third story window. Recommends it for: anyone wishing to read it in English and NOT in French, for the translation is too bad and painful. I can't say I have ever been made read a piece of 'literature' that I found more stupid or unnecessary. Don't read if u can help it. Needless to say, I physically couldn't handle finishing this monstrosity of a tome. Bored out of my mind! The way the sarcastic and haughty narrator reify most of the characters of the novel spells the end of great english prose literature... Fielding constantly interrupts the narrative to talk to the reader. I just got annoyed and gave up. One of the worst examples I've had the misfortune to acquaint myself with of Victorians binding their own verbal diarrhea, ugh. Half way through this book I realized the author was trying to be funny. Check out my review (of sorts!!) Lord! Save me from this book! Page 85 and who is the main character already? Enough! The plot is good but the pontificating and entire chapters off the subject are just too much. I really wanted to like it, but I just could not get into it. Maybe another time. HATED every single minute of it. HATED the movie too. I-yai-yai! I remember now why I didn't like Fielding!, dear reader. Added to the list as another classic I didn't like... Teen sex romp with high literature trappings. Only read the first novel, it was horrible! I found this book extremely stupid. Just - meh. BOOO. Terrible!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Wu

    I've seen a lot of people telling writers to build a platform. I disagree. What they should be building is a personality. Writing experts drone on about an author's voice. They're not wrong. But your voice is just a means to express your personality. Misled by writers of genius like T.S. Eliot and Flaubert, some authorities stress revision. They force you to focus on smoothness of style. They want you to rewrite everything until your personality completely disappears. That's okay if you have been w I've seen a lot of people telling writers to build a platform. I disagree. What they should be building is a personality. Writing experts drone on about an author's voice. They're not wrong. But your voice is just a means to express your personality. Misled by writers of genius like T.S. Eliot and Flaubert, some authorities stress revision. They force you to focus on smoothness of style. They want you to rewrite everything until your personality completely disappears. That's okay if you have been writing 1,000 words a day every day for years and want to hone your technique. But first you have to discover what is in you. You have to learn how to be yourself, to cast off artifice and be completely natural. That is very hard. If you're not sure what a personality looks like when it's poured into a novel, you could read Tom Jones. Even if it doesn't make you a better writer, it will make you a better person. Moral education should always be like this: ribald, riotous and fun. It's huge but it's masterly, it hits all the right spots, it teases, stimulates and satisfies. After you've reached the climax you'll want it all over again. In case you hadn't guessed, I love it. Henry Fielding wasn't handsome but he had a big personality. This book is his platform and when you've finished reading it, it makes a good yoga brick.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Darren

    BEST OLD-SCHOOL CLASSIC EVER! Fielding throws the kitchen-sink at this one and everything comes off: talking to the reader preface chapters to each of the 18 books dizzying array of characters (from servants to lords) whose lives criss-cross/intertwine and end up fitting together like a Swiss watch meticulously written with never a single false note in 1000 pages moving at times, and with underlying moral message HILARIOUS on all levels - some of the characters are inherently funny, Fielding's affectiona BEST OLD-SCHOOL CLASSIC EVER! Fielding throws the kitchen-sink at this one and everything comes off: talking to the reader preface chapters to each of the 18 books dizzying array of characters (from servants to lords) whose lives criss-cross/intertwine and end up fitting together like a Swiss watch meticulously written with never a single false note in 1000 pages moving at times, and with underlying moral message HILARIOUS on all levels - some of the characters are inherently funny, Fielding's affectionately observed descriptions, plus lashings of slap-stick/farce/situation comedy took me 6 weeks to get through in electronic form, but when (not if) I read this again I will buy a big fat paperback and luxuriate in taking however long it takes (and regret when it eventually finishes).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    So, I give this five stars, but, you know, not every five star book should be read by every person. If you have great patience, and are willing to admit that your tastes have been formed by the nineteenth century novel and then by certain aspects of modern literature; if you're willing to test your (my) assumption that novels are best when they're realistic or modernist; if you don't mind a bit of slap and tickle... then you should read this. If you want to judge a book based on whether its char So, I give this five stars, but, you know, not every five star book should be read by every person. If you have great patience, and are willing to admit that your tastes have been formed by the nineteenth century novel and then by certain aspects of modern literature; if you're willing to test your (my) assumption that novels are best when they're realistic or modernist; if you don't mind a bit of slap and tickle... then you should read this. If you want to judge a book based on whether its characters are 'round;' if you think the best book doesn't really have a narrator at all, let alone one who keeps talking at you; and, most importantly, if you're the sort of reader/critic Fielding spends about two pages out of every hundred mercilessly slagging off, then you should probably avoid this like the plague. If you're not sure what kind of person you are, read 'Joseph Andrews.' It's much shorter, and nowhere near as good, but a good litmus test. If you're the second kind of person listed here, don't worry, I'm not judging you for being completely bound by your historical moment. Much. But you are missing out on one of the greatest stories in English lit.

  14. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    The Pico de Neblina of picaresque novels, Fielding’s masterpiece laid the foundations for the entire canon of Thackeray and Dickens, who worshipped this novel like Dostoevsky worshipped Dead Souls. The practice of spreading a thin plot across a mouthwatering focaccia of digressive, hilarious, enlightening prose is felt in the pantheon of encyclopedic masterworks that followed in the wake of this tremendous romp, itself in thrall to Don Quixote. One of the most lovable antiheroes in literature (a The Pico de Neblina of picaresque novels, Fielding’s masterpiece laid the foundations for the entire canon of Thackeray and Dickens, who worshipped this novel like Dostoevsky worshipped Dead Souls. The practice of spreading a thin plot across a mouthwatering focaccia of digressive, hilarious, enlightening prose is felt in the pantheon of encyclopedic masterworks that followed in the wake of this tremendous romp, itself in thrall to Don Quixote. One of the most lovable antiheroes in literature (although the extent of Tom’s rascality is a loose libido), who could take Barry Lyndon in a bareknuckle brawl any Wednesday, although might find himself impaled on the épée of Miss Becky Sharp, or stomped under the formidable clodhoppers of Moll Flanders. Take heed, Eng Lit BA students, the rewards are here, if thou unplugs thine iphone long enough.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Wowzas! What a lot of waffle! The history of the novel is perhaps one of a decline in the use of the Authorial Voice, which was still quite prevalent in the Victorian era. THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN CURTAILED IN PROTEST AT GOODREADS' CENSORSHIP POLICY See the complete review here: http://arbieroo.booklikes.com/post/33...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    900 pages later, I can confirm what my friend Wales told me: this book has nothing to do with the Tom Jones who asked, "What's new, pussycat?" Instead, it's a massive blow-up of a classic Shakespeare comedy that exactly follows the classic structure: our likable heroes are introduced; a series of miscommunications and devious acts by rivals conspire to rend them apart; you know how act V goes in these things, and you'll see it coming here as soon as you realize this book is a comedy, which if it' 900 pages later, I can confirm what my friend Wales told me: this book has nothing to do with the Tom Jones who asked, "What's new, pussycat?" Instead, it's a massive blow-up of a classic Shakespeare comedy that exactly follows the classic structure: our likable heroes are introduced; a series of miscommunications and devious acts by rivals conspire to rend them apart; you know how act V goes in these things, and you'll see it coming here as soon as you realize this book is a comedy, which if it's not at the Table of Contents, you're not reading very carefully. (Romantic comedies, of course, still follow this exact structure today (see Meet the Parents and every Jennifer Lopez movie), and it still leaves me tearing my non-existent hair out at everyone's steadfast refusal to have a simple conversation that would clear all this up.) By "massive blow-up" I mean not a deconstruction but a really, really long version of a Shakespeare comedy, and this book is too long. Despite the pleasantness of the prose, and the not infrequent passages that actually made me laugh, it's a meandering shaggy dog of a story and it'd be better-known and better-loved today had Fielding had an editor. But it is pleasant, and that puts it worlds above Fielding's bitter rival Samuel Richardson, the author of a book I recently detested. This, I just liked.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I'll give this line to Cecilia from Atonement: "Give me Fielding any day. Much more passionate." This book is hilariously funny, riotous, chaotic, rip-roaring... and all those old fashioned adjectives for a damn good time. You know what, read this /and/ see the movie- its much more joyous if you've read it first, I think, but either way will do. It might take you a little to get into the lingo, but after that, it should be pretty smooth (and fun!) sailing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Steven Greenberg

    One of the earliest--and probably still the greatest of English novels, Tom Jones is still a delight to read and savor after 250 years. Richardson's film, which captures the world of 1750 England with extraordinary fidelity, is still a must--and one of the greatest movies of all time, by the way. But the book itself! I read it first in a lit class in my pre-med undergrad days--and I was astounded! Astounded that this fellow Fielding was chatting with me wittily and poignantly through the centuri One of the earliest--and probably still the greatest of English novels, Tom Jones is still a delight to read and savor after 250 years. Richardson's film, which captures the world of 1750 England with extraordinary fidelity, is still a must--and one of the greatest movies of all time, by the way. But the book itself! I read it first in a lit class in my pre-med undergrad days--and I was astounded! Astounded that this fellow Fielding was chatting with me wittily and poignantly through the centuries that came between. When I finished the book--after 700-something pages--I was depressed that there was nothing more of it to read. It was as though a dear friend had departed and I wanted nothing more than to have him back again. I tried--I read Jonathan Wild and Shamela; I read Joseph Andrews--loved them all, but still I missed my rogueish Tom. I read Richardson's epistolary novels, and Smollett, and Sterne. All fun, all interesting. But still nothing even close to Tom. Finally I just went ahead and read Tom Jones again. It was like listening to Mozart a second time--even better than the first. And, just as no composer since 1791 has produced more perfect music than Mozart did, no writer since has equalled the wit and wisdom and downright delight that is Fielding's Tom Jones. Read it and be amazed!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sotiris Karaiskos

    A really delightful book, written in a way so smart and so playful that really earned my appreciation from the first page. The story it tells is not something special, even for the time it was written. The hero off the hook, Tom Jones, is a child of an unknown father who was fortunate to fall into good hands and grow up in very good conditions. The fact of his unknown paternity, however, irreparably damages his prospects in this society where origin is everything and adds a speck from which he c A really delightful book, written in a way so smart and so playful that really earned my appreciation from the first page. The story it tells is not something special, even for the time it was written. The hero off the hook, Tom Jones, is a child of an unknown father who was fortunate to fall into good hands and grow up in very good conditions. The fact of his unknown paternity, however, irreparably damages his prospects in this society where origin is everything and adds a speck from which he can never escape. When love comes, in the form of a young woman who does not have these problems, things get even more complicated and after a series of misunderstandings she is forced to go away in search of his own fortune. Of course, as you suspect, the ending is good enough, as dictated by the style of the book, but the most important thing is the way the author tells this story. His way of writing is really amazing, this continuous play with words and concepts, this unstoppable satire of everything, from the relationship of the sexes to the political situation of the country, from religious beliefs to dominant sociological analyzes, this delightful parody of established forms of literature that culminates in an even more enjoyable self-parody, this ironic analysis the author makes about all the strange things he sees around him creates a result capable of stimulating the most demanding brains and offers many nice moments. The interest thing is that this is done without puting the story coming to the sidelines, with the author use it in such a way to be able to say what he wants, in the way I have described you. There are, of course, some negative things that I imagine have tired a lot of other people who have tried to read this book. The size of the book is very large, with the writer constantly giving in to the temptation of chattering and going so far as to fill so many pages with things totally unrelated to the book's plot. I read several objections from readers on this subject with the basic argument that the author could tell the story within fewer pages, certainly has some basis, but in that way we would have lost too much as the author could not have talked about some things that interest him through the totally irrelevant paths that followed, as opposed to this his chatter gives us a very complete picture of the society of his time. I admit, of course, that even me at some time this thing tired me, but by finishing reading, and thus making a complete evaluation of the book I understand they had their significance and that it was worth the extra effort to go through them. So to the end, I am totally pleased from what I read(view spoiler)[ with my heart filled with joy by the happy ending of this great love that has gone through so many difficult situations (hide spoiler)] , with anything negative to have little matter to my final a crisis that is of course the best rating. Ένα πραγματικά ιδιαίτερα απολαυστικό βιβλίο, γραμμένο με έναν τρόπο τόσο έξυπνο και τόσο παιχνιδιάρικο που πραγματικά κέρδισε την εκτίμηση μου από την πρώτη σελίδα. Η ιστορία που αφηγείται δεν είναι κάτι το ιδιαίτερο, ακόμα και για την εποχή που γράφτηκε. Ο ήρωας του βιβλίου, ο Tom Jones, είναι ένα παιδί αγνώστου πατρός που είχε την τύχη να πέσει σε καλά χέρια και να μεγαλώσει μέσα σε πολύ καλές συνθήκες. Το γεγονός της άγνωστης πατρότητας του, όμως, βλάπτει ανεπανόρθωτα τις προοπτικές του σε αυτήν την κοινωνία όπου η καταγωγή είναι το παν και του προσθέτει ένα στίγμα από το οποίο δεν μπορεί ποτέ να ξεφύγει. Όταν έρχεται ο έρωτας με τη μορφή μιας νεαρής γυναίκας όπου δεν έχει αυτά τα προβλήματα τα πράγματα περιπλέκονται ακόμα περισσότερο και μετά από μία σειρά από παρεξηγήσεις αναγκάζεται να φύγει μακριά σε αναζήτηση της δικής του τύχης. Φυσικά, όπως υποψιάζεστε, η κατάληξη στο τέλος είναι αρκετά καλή, όπως υπαγορεύει το ύφος του βιβλίου, αλλά το βασικότερο είναι ο τρόπος που η συγγραφέας αφηγείται όλη αυτή την ιστορία. Ο τρόπος γραφής του είναι πραγματικά καταπληκτικός, αυτό το συνεχόμενο παιχνίδι με τις λέξεις και τις έννοιες, αυτή η ασταμάτητη σάτιρα των πάντων, από τη σχέση των δύο φύλων μέχρι την πολιτική κατάσταση της χώρας, από τις θρησκευτικές πεποιθήσεις μέχρι τις κυρίαρχες κοινωνιολογικές αναλύσεις, αυτή η απολαυστική παρωδία των καθιερωμένων μορφών λογοτεχνίας που καταλήγει σε μία ακόμα πιο απολαυστική αυτοπαρωδία, αυτή η ειρωνική ανάλυση που κάνει ο συγγραφέας για όλα αυτά τα περίεργα που βλέπει γύρω του δημιουργούν ένα αποτέλεσμα ικανό να διεγείρει τους πιο απαιτητικούς εγκεφάλους και να προσφέρει πολλές ωραίες στιγμές. Το ενδιαφέρον είναι ότι αυτό γίνεται χωρίς να μπαίνει η ιστορία στην άκρη, με το συγγραφέα να καταφέρνει να τη χρησιμοποιεί με τέτοιο τρόπο μου το επιτρέπει να πει αυτά που θέλει, με τον τρόπο που σας περιέγραψα. Υπάρχουν, βέβαια, κάποια αρνητικά πράγματα που φαντάζομαι ότι κούρασαν αρκετά άλλους ανθρώπους που προσπάθησαν να διαβάσουν αυτό το βιβλίο. Το μέγεθος του βιβλίου είναι ιδιαίτερα μεγάλο, με το συγγραφέα να ενδίδει συνεχώς στον πειρασμό της φλυαρίας και να ξεφεύγει τόσο πολύ από το θέμα ώστε να αφιερώνει πάρα πολλές σελίδες επάνω σε πράγματα εντελώς άσχετα με την υπόθεση του βιβλίου. Διαβάζω αρκετές ενστάσεις από αναγνώστες για αυτό το θέμα με το βασικό επιχείρημα ότι ο συγγραφέας θα μπορούσε να διηγηθεί την ιστορία μέσα σε πολύ λιγότερες σελίδες, σίγουρα έχει κάποια βάση αυτό, αλλά με αυτόν τον τρόπο θα χάναμε πάρα πολλά καθώς ο συγγραφέας δεν θα μπορούσε να μιλήσει για κάποια πράγματα που τον ενδιαφέρουν μέσα από τα εντελώς άσχετα μονοπάτια που ακολούθησε, αντιθέτως με τη φλυαρία του μας δίνει μία πολύ ολοκληρωμένη εικόνα για την κοινωνία της εποχής του. Ομολογώ, βέβαια, οτι και εμένα όλα αυτά κάποια στιγμή με κούρασαν, τελειώνοντας, όμως, την ανάγνωση και κάνοντας έτσι μία ολοκληρωμένη αποτίμηση του βιβλίου καταλαβαίνω ότι είχαν και αυτά τη σημασία τους και ότι άξιζε αυτή η παραπάνω προσπάθεια για να περάσω μέσα από αυτά. Έτσι, φτάνοντας στο τέλος, είμαι απόλυτα ικανοποιημένος από ότι διάβασα(view spoiler)[ με την καρδιά μου να γεμίσει χαρά από την ευτυχή κατάληξη αυτού του μεγάλου έρωτα που πέρασε από τόσες δύσκολες καταστάσεις (hide spoiler)] , με ότι αρνητικό και αν υπάρχει να μην έχει ιδιαίτερη σημασία στην τελική μου κρίση που είναι φυσικά η άριστη βαθμολογία.

  20. 4 out of 5

    John

    A very long romp of a story. Tom Jones, a foundling, is an engaging fellow, particularly with the ladies. He is not however generally accepted in genteel circles where his bastardy and lack of property is a severe social impairment. It is on the whole pretty readable although much too long in my opinion. Its great attraction for me is in what it reveals to me of 18th century English life at all levels, particularly rural society. It contrasted more favourably for me with the rigidity of Victorian A very long romp of a story. Tom Jones, a foundling, is an engaging fellow, particularly with the ladies. He is not however generally accepted in genteel circles where his bastardy and lack of property is a severe social impairment. It is on the whole pretty readable although much too long in my opinion. Its great attraction for me is in what it reveals to me of 18th century English life at all levels, particularly rural society. It contrasted more favourably for me with the rigidity of Victorian society in the succeeding century. Women however had a very raw deal and the arranged marriage in the upper stratas of society was the norm which a girl rejected at her peril. The book abounds in colourful characters, high and low and there are bawdy scenes aplenty. There are also many examples of bad behaviour of the hypocritical kind which Dickens specialised in writing about. Charles Dickens I am sure would gain some inspiration from this novel. It is a pot boiler and a rather good bit of 18th century pulp fiction with bells.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Free download available at Project Gutenberg. The audio version can be found at LibriVox. Book X - Chapter i: Reader, it is impossible we should know what sort of person thou wilt be; for, perhaps, thou may'st be as learned in human nature as Shakespear himself was, and, perhaps, thou may'st be no wiser than some of his editors. Now, lest this latter should be the case, we think proper, before we go any farther together, to give thee a few wholesome admonitions; that thou may'st not as grossly misu Free download available at Project Gutenberg. The audio version can be found at LibriVox. Book X - Chapter i: Reader, it is impossible we should know what sort of person thou wilt be; for, perhaps, thou may'st be as learned in human nature as Shakespear himself was, and, perhaps, thou may'st be no wiser than some of his editors. Now, lest this latter should be the case, we think proper, before we go any farther together, to give thee a few wholesome admonitions; that thou may'st not as grossly misunderstand and misrepresent us, as some of the said editors have misunderstood and misrepresented their author. Thou art to know, friend, that there are certain characteristics in which most individuals of every profession and occupation agree. To be able to preserve these characteristics, and at the same time to diversify their operations, is one talent of a good writer. Book X - Chapter ii: It hath been a custom long established in the polite world, and that upon very solid and substantial reasons, that a husband shall never enter his wife's apartment without first knocking at the door. The many excellent uses of this custom need scarce be hinted to a reader who hath any knowledge of the world; for by this means the lady hath time to adjust herself, or to remove any disagreeable object out of the way; for there are some situations in which nice and delicate women would not be discovered by their husbands. Book XVI - Chapter i: To say the truth, I believe many a hearty curse hath been devoted on the head of that author who first instituted the method of prefixing to his play that portion of matter which is called the prologue; and which at first was part of the piece itself, but of latter years hath had usually so little connexion with the drama before which it stands, that the prologue to one play might as well serve for any other. Those indeed of more modern date, seem all to be written on the same three topics, viz., an abuse of the taste of the town, a condemnation of all contemporary authors, and an eulogium on the performance just about to be represented. The sentiments in all these are very little varied, nor is it possible they should; and indeed I have often wondered at the great invention of authors, who have been capable of finding such various phrases to express the same thing. Book XVII - Chapter i: When a comic writer hath made his principal characters as happy as he can, or when a tragic writer hath brought them to the highest pitch of human misery, they both conclude their business to be done, and that their work is come to a period. This kind of criticism reminds me in some way of Voltaire's works. A movie Tom Jones (1963) with Albert Finney, Susannah York, George Devine and a TV series The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1997) were made based on this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Monika

    Tom Jones is a kind of story that I pour out my heart to. I haven't read something so agreeable and sweet and pleasing in a very long run. It demands patience, not only because of the number of pages, but also because of the gentleness that Fielding has shown for even in portraying something immodest. I am glad that I didn't leave the journey unexplored. I had an urge to, but I pushed myself a little everyday. It took three months for me to get convinced that I need to read this and another (alm Tom Jones is a kind of story that I pour out my heart to. I haven't read something so agreeable and sweet and pleasing in a very long run. It demands patience, not only because of the number of pages, but also because of the gentleness that Fielding has shown for even in portraying something immodest. I am glad that I didn't leave the journey unexplored. I had an urge to, but I pushed myself a little everyday. It took three months for me to get convinced that I need to read this and another (almost) two months to finish reading it. Ultimately, like all journeys, it ended, and how agreeably has it ended. Tom Jones is widely acknowledged to be one of the first English novels. The greatest challenge for me was its writing style. Who was I fooling? I should have accepted from the beginning that this is not the conventional writing style. Afterall, it was published long back in 1749. Tom Jones tells the story of a solitary hero, a vagabond, who, though he has Mr Allworthy as his family member, the most agreeable of all fellows, undertakes a journey and carries the social stigma everywhere. Though I felt that he lacks certain 'virtue' for which he is often considered worthy of admiration, but this too, I can let pass. Afterall, who, among us, is entirely faultless? The narration of this novel can't remain untouched. It is a tangle of many styles. The authorial interventions are many, but it adds on to establishing a firmness in the plot. Like everything that is a part of this novel, the narrator is quite agreeable. With a pleasing disposition, he lets the reader use their imagination while also instigating a few emotions in the journey. While, on the one hand, there are characters who are full of concealment and debauchery, on the other hand, there are characters who can easily be said to be the embodiment of virtue. I can't stop myself from gushing over the fact that even though I had wanted to leave it in between, I didn't. Damn -- it counts as one of the best decisions of my life.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gill

    I very much enjoy reading this book (as a side read from The Novel: A Biography) It's a long read (more than 900 pages), but I found it quite easy to read it. I didn't get bored at all. It didn't feel as if I was reading a book that was more than 200 years old. The thing I like most about the book is its structure. It's divided into 18 smallish books, each of which is divided into chapters. The first chapter of each book is the narrator talking to the reader. I really enjoyed the feeling that the I very much enjoy reading this book (as a side read from The Novel: A Biography) It's a long read (more than 900 pages), but I found it quite easy to read it. I didn't get bored at all. It didn't feel as if I was reading a book that was more than 200 years old. The thing I like most about the book is its structure. It's divided into 18 smallish books, each of which is divided into chapters. The first chapter of each book is the narrator talking to the reader. I really enjoyed the feeling that the narrator was taking me into his confidence. I liked the way he was telling me about how he planned to tell me the story, how other people told stories et cetera et cetera et cetera. The first chapter of bk 10 is an extremely good example of this. The only slight quibble I have with the book is that the final section which is tying up all the loose ends seems quite hurried and not so plausible as the rest of the story.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I just can't do it. Not for the sake of my on-line book club (who have finished it long ago), not for my own paranoia about missing something important, not for my strange compulsion to never leave a book unfinished. I have to draw the line somewhere, and I draw it at Henry Fielding's feet. I've left Tom Jones on my "currently-reading" shelf for months, thinking guilt could inspire me through the remaining 600+ pages, but the very thought of picking it up again drains the joy from my reading tim I just can't do it. Not for the sake of my on-line book club (who have finished it long ago), not for my own paranoia about missing something important, not for my strange compulsion to never leave a book unfinished. I have to draw the line somewhere, and I draw it at Henry Fielding's feet. I've left Tom Jones on my "currently-reading" shelf for months, thinking guilt could inspire me through the remaining 600+ pages, but the very thought of picking it up again drains the joy from my reading time. I'd almost rather go watch TV and that's absurd. It's a matter of self-preservation now. I have to give up Tom Jones before I start watching Survivor or worse, The Bachelor.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Destestable. Just tedium punctuated with banalities. The hero's a guilded void. And the heroine is praised for never attempting opinions or wit. *aspires* Fielding belittles other writers whilst citing critics as worse than murderers. *shakes fist at hypocrisy* Plus, it's supposed to be socially subversive but the hero is revealed as an heir. My copy only escaped the cleansing flames cos I'd been indoctrinated with carbon footprint consciousness. *refrains from underwear-throwing*

  26. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    This was one of those thousand page books I had three days to read before moving on to the next masterpiece when I was an undergraduate English major. I remembered almost nothing about it, except for scraps from my professor's lecture, when my hunt for copyright-free classics for my e-book reader led me here. It was the first English-language novel, as we define them today, or one of the first, my professor told us. I'm pretty sure I also read a John Irving book once in which a main character ta This was one of those thousand page books I had three days to read before moving on to the next masterpiece when I was an undergraduate English major. I remembered almost nothing about it, except for scraps from my professor's lecture, when my hunt for copyright-free classics for my e-book reader led me here. It was the first English-language novel, as we define them today, or one of the first, my professor told us. I'm pretty sure I also read a John Irving book once in which a main character taught this book and was frustrated that his students didn't see the humor in it. So I had some idea of what I was getting into, and a little trepidation. I'm glad I overcame my fear. The broad plot outline is simple, despite many twists and turns. Tom Jones, a bastard, is raised by Squire Allworthy, who is very worthy indeed, alongside well-born and baleful Master Blifel. They vie for the attention of wise and beautiful Sophia, who loves Jones and hates Blifel. A convoluted series of obstacles get between Sophia and Tom Jones, including her blundering alcoholic father, the self-serious hilarious tutors Thwackum and Square, Tom's inability to resist a lusty wench, a Latin-loving addled barber named Partridge, a Catholic rebellion, and an endless parade of self-important innkeepers. It's foreordained that this long journey will eventually lead to a happy ending, but it's fascinating to see how the protagonists get there and what becomes of the supporting characters along the way. Every dozen chapters or so, Fielding pauses the action for a short essay explaining what he's doing. "I'm writing a book here," he seems to say. "Someday, this genre will be called a novel. Let me explain what that's all about." He compares and contrasts a novel with a play, rails against critics for tearing down others without creating anything themselves, apologizes for the behavior of his characters by explaining that he's trying to show how human nature really works. These essays are witty, wry and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. Fielding is very good at pretending to take himself seriously while subtly playing buffoon. I found the language in this book easier to follow than some works written a hundred years later. Fielding's writing is clear, self-aware. He's not a poet, not overly beautiful with his words, but he knows how to spin an engaging yarn.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

    Right. So we watched this -- BBC ; 1997 ; five hours. Definitely not the BBC’s finest moment. That tendency toward a literalistic adaptation/translation fails more than it succeeds. They seem to have done well with Brideshead, but you can’t really fail with Jeremy Irons playing your narrative ear. Bleak House really was fantastic. Best thing really in this Tom Jones is quite predictably the thing they did with the pre-chapter essays Fielding wrote ; they threw in a narrator character. How else t Right. So we watched this -- BBC ; 1997 ; five hours. Definitely not the BBC’s finest moment. That tendency toward a literalistic adaptation/translation fails more than it succeeds. They seem to have done well with Brideshead, but you can’t really fail with Jeremy Irons playing your narrative ear. Bleak House really was fantastic. Best thing really in this Tom Jones is quite predictably the thing they did with the pre-chapter essays Fielding wrote ; they threw in a narrator character. How else to preserve that central portion of the novel? Also, the verdict of The Significant is that, Austen did it better. I understand what is meant by that. And it’s true. But the thing is, the thing that Fielding did, Fielding did better than Austen. I mean, the Austen films simply are better than this Tom Jones (there is an earlier Tom Jones from 1963). But the main problem here isn’t the boring thing about “the book is better than the movie” (books usually are because they do what books do better than movies do), but that the characters didn’t mutate well. Thing is, I just can’t bring myself to think of characters in their ontological wordiness being contorted into two dimensional versions of flesh and blood creatures. This is a Gass thing of course :: “A character for me is any linguistic location of a book toward which a great part of the rest of the text stands as a modifier” ; something like that. A longer extract from Gass HERE. So, there’s good reason why your literary characters being found upon a screen is so disorienting and alienating. They no longer are that which they were to have been, words words words.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Linds

    I read a lot of historical romances and this book is actually very similar. Yes, it's a simple boy meets girl, boy loses girl, etc. But it's also funny, generous, perceptive of human nature, and excellent for showing the facets of hypocrisy people are capable of. It's a little epic coming of age journey with laughs as our hero goes through the wringer, some of it's his fault, and some just bad luck. It's a credit to the author that a book written in the 1700's is easy to relate to almost 300 year I read a lot of historical romances and this book is actually very similar. Yes, it's a simple boy meets girl, boy loses girl, etc. But it's also funny, generous, perceptive of human nature, and excellent for showing the facets of hypocrisy people are capable of. It's a little epic coming of age journey with laughs as our hero goes through the wringer, some of it's his fault, and some just bad luck. It's a credit to the author that a book written in the 1700's is easy to relate to almost 300 years later! Tom Jones is not a "true" hero. He sleeps with other women even though he loves Sophia. (Although, as he points out, being a bastard and an orphan he never truly thought he had a chance with her.) Women are his Achilles heel, and somehow I don't hate him for it. He's also sweet, generous, and I worry for him when things go wrong. (Which many things do.) This is a classic, but don't be afraid of it, it's not stuffy. On the other hand it's written in the early 1700's so if you're not familiar with Regency language it can be a bit daunting.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gull

    I first read this at university, solely based on a lecturer’s high praise and abundant enthusiasm towards the novel. The narrative style is impressive—more so considering the time in which it was written—particularly the interludes where the self-conscious narrator discusses the novel and, periodically, mocks and chides critics. Fielding’s use of intertextuality is rather remarkable: he references classics, like Homer’s epic poems, Greek mythology, and Shakespeare’s plays. This often achieves a hi I first read this at university, solely based on a lecturer’s high praise and abundant enthusiasm towards the novel. The narrative style is impressive—more so considering the time in which it was written—particularly the interludes where the self-conscious narrator discusses the novel and, periodically, mocks and chides critics. Fielding’s use of intertextuality is rather remarkable: he references classics, like Homer’s epic poems, Greek mythology, and Shakespeare’s plays. This often achieves a highly amusing and parodic effect, since his characters are caricatures and often banal, but are occasionally given qualities and characteristics of epic characters. Ironically, for the same reasons I appreciated and enjoyed reading the novel—the narrative style and intertextuality—many readers may find Tom Jones unappealing. However, if you appreciate wit, satire and fine prose, then I strongly recommend you read this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    I'm throwing in the towel on this one, after 200+ pages and dreading to pick it up once more. What I noticed immediately is his apparent influence on my beloved Anthony Trollope. Mr. Thwackum was introduced with his giving a thrashing to Tommy Jones. Trollope has many minor characters who are named because of their personalities. Fielding uses authorial intrusion, speaking directly to the reader away from his story. Trollope does this in a way I like. And so, you'd think this might have been wri I'm throwing in the towel on this one, after 200+ pages and dreading to pick it up once more. What I noticed immediately is his apparent influence on my beloved Anthony Trollope. Mr. Thwackum was introduced with his giving a thrashing to Tommy Jones. Trollope has many minor characters who are named because of their personalities. Fielding uses authorial intrusion, speaking directly to the reader away from his story. Trollope does this in a way I like. And so, you'd think this might have been written just for me. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get myself to read it. I did see the humor, or at least some of it - occasionally, but not frequently enough. The authorial intrusion was too intrusive. Fielding tended to wander, to think too much of himself rather than his story. Perhaps it's too old for me and that the 19th Century that I love so much is as old as I want. No, I'm not yet giving up on the 18th Century, but I will proceed with the utmost caution.

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