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Tom Jones by Henry Fielding

Tom Jones (1749)

by Henry Fielding, Encyclopedia Britannica

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,07060683 (3.89)326
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» See also 326 mentions

English (54)  German (3)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  All (60)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
A little dull in places I thought but I did enjoy the adventures he had and the purity of his love for Sophia. ( )
  kale.dyer | Mar 30, 2017 |
Anyone with a modicum of experience reading literature knows that a “very influential novel” from nearly 300 years ago will consist of pretty much every stereotypical literary device that could be crammed into it. This is not because the influential novel itself is badly written. In fact, quite the opposite: the novel is so well written and so unique in its construction that every other novel of any note within 100 years of it finds itself beholden to it for virtually all of its inspiration.

Such is definitely the case with Tom Jones. Unfortunately, we don’t have the benefit of camping on the pavement outside Andrew Millar’s shop in The Strand, London in the dim and almost undoubtedly drizzly days leading up to February 28th, 1749 and rushing out to the waiting media with a copy of the first edition of iTomJones in our hands. Instead, we have to read this novel through the opaque and definitely distorted lenses of the 21st century.

This is a shame. It’s a shame because we are now bored with the picaresque, less mightily moved by the hero overcoming moral injustice, prepared by Disney and Austin for marriages that end with weddings rather than begin with them, and can spot the (by now) inevitable plot twist of an orphan discovering his mother from 300 years away. Neither are we shocked by novelists tackling incest, fornication or religious discrimination, and our appetite for discussing which particular brand of Christianity might be the best for government has well and truly left the majority of us.

I don’t think many of today’s readers will appreciate this as much as it was appreciated in the late 18th century. I recognise its value and it scores highly in my rating on those grounds. Quite honestly though, I was more than happy to hear the end of it. I thought it went on quite too long and rated Fielding’s unrelated diatribes on various issues dear to his soul even lower than Hugo’s in Les Miserables. At least Hugo’s had something to do with the novel itself. Well, most of the time they did. It’s not even a “life”; the vast majority of the book takes place over “about” nine weeks.

If you’re passionate about understanding how the novel has come to be, this is an extremely important one to have read. I’m interested, but not passionate, and I’ve a feeling that my relief at reaching the end will be shared by most of my generation and more in generations to come. ( )
1 vote arukiyomi | Dec 17, 2016 |
I read this many years ago, in our Great Books. Enjoyed it a lot - so did my husband. We also liked the movie with Albert Finney. The movie was an excellent adaptation, but it still left stuff out. ( )
  CarolJMO | Dec 12, 2016 |
Tom Jones isn't a bad guy, but boys just want to have fun. Nearly two and a half centuries after its publication, the adventures of the rambunctious and randy Tom Jones still makes for great reading. I'm not in the habit of using words like bawdy or rollicking, but if you look them up in the dictionary, you should see a picture of this book. ( )
  fredjryder1946 | Jun 23, 2016 |
This was another pleasure to read in that slow, reflective 18th century style that is filled with humour, character, incident and social observation. The plot is convoluted but easy to follow, and the main story of Tom’s sexual misadventures on the way to virtuous love is never really in question – the only issue is how many diversions he will have to go through before he gets where he should be.
The characters are satires, mainly of the landed gentry and the titled, although it’s always clear where the lines of power and authority lie (so much clearer than in our contemporary times.) Much of the humour and enjoyment of the novel comes from Fielding’s ironic descriptions of his characters’ motivations and actions, and his observations on the society they live in – apparently hypocritical at all levels.
Through the satire and his ongoing commentary, Fielding points to the inequality of women in society, while also pointing out that many of the women are more intelligent and well read than the men they are linked to. The strongest storyline aside from Tom’s is the conflict between the strong-minded Sophia and the idiot father she loves, but who wants to command her obedience. It ends only when their two interests finally come together in the union of two large estates.
Fielding also shows the stark contrast between the wealthy and the common people, although with no suggestion that that inequality might be a problem. Poor people struggle with their lot, and sometimes don’t make it, just like the higher class people who run out of money. But there are both good and venal lower class people as well as upper class ones. In fact, one of the interesting features of the book is that many of the characters have complex morals. They may at times be venal, and at other times generous and loyal. In this way, they are less stereotypes than the characters in many other novels where most characters except for the leading ones are either good or bad, with little shading. One of the few exceptions is the good Squire Allworthy, whose kindness and generosity are exceeded only by his wisdom and honour. He’s a bit godly, and a contrast to the more realistic common characters. The other exception is his evil nephew, whose unscrupulous lies, greed and lack of honour are also unmixed.
Tom’s early relatively carefree life and his kind nature set him up as a good person with a natural morality, but it seems that that’s not enough. Fielding makes a strong argument for morality in the last parts of the novel, and his favoured morality is Christian. (The Christian clerics, however, don’t come off well – in fact, of the representatives of Christian and “natural” morality, although both are extremes, it’s the natural philosopher who comes off best after his deathbed conversion to real Christianity.) And while it seems that Tom’s natural inclination to enjoy life, including his relationships with women, is at first carefree, it later gets him intro trouble and he has to renounce his free sexuality to enter a relationship with his true love. (Much like Fielding did, the introduction suggests.) Interestingly, however, while Tom is a willing participant in a range of sexual adventures, it seems to be the women who initiate the relationships and get Tom in trouble. So Tom is a sort of innocent, much in contrast to the reality of young men of privilege, I suspect. The story of his parentage, however, shows that women cannot enjoy the same carefree sexuality that he does.
I’m glad to have read this after Mason & Dixon, because it shows how closely Thomas Pynchon copied an 18th century style in his writing, with the absurdity, authorial commentary and extraordinary characters. The formal style of Tom Jones is quite different from the informality of Mason & Dixon, but both have a complex plot, complex characters, and long discourses on side topics. But in spite of the rambling stories, it was always a pleasure to come back to both of these novels because their worlds are so rich and full of enjoyment. ( )
  rab1953 | Mar 17, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (96 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fielding, Henryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Encyclopedia Britannicamain authorall editionsconfirmed
Alopaeus, MarjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bender, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chappell, WarrenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cleland, T. M.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gorey, EdwardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gravelot, Hubert FrançoisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hutchins, Robert MEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kermode, FrankAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keymer, TomEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kronenberger, LouisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
La Place, Pierre-Antoine deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mutter, R.P.CEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rawson, ClaudeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saintsbury, GeorgeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sergi, PinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sherburn, George WileyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Singleton, Ralph H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Lawrence BeallIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stern, SimonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wakely, AliceEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the Honourable George Lyttleton, Esq.;  One of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury
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An author ought to consider himself, not as a gentleman who gives a private or eleemosynary treat, but rather as one who keeps a public ordinary, at which all persons are welcome for their money.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140430091, Paperback)

Tom Jones isn't a bad guy, but boys just want to have fun. Nearly two and a half centuries after its publication, the adventures of the rambunctious and randy Tom Jones still makes for great reading. I'm not in the habit of using words like bawdy or rollicking, but if you look them up in the dictionary, you should see a picture of this book.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:34 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Chronicles the romantic adventures of mysterious orphan Tom Jones, a reckless yet personable young man, as he falls in love with the unattainable Sophia Western, the beautiful daughter of a neighboring squire.

» see all 11 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140436227, 0141199733

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