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Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
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Tom Jones (1749)

by Henry Fielding

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5,85059722 (3.88)309
  1. 51
    The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne (Widsith)
    Widsith: The obvious companion book...Shandy is funnier, but less story-driven
  2. 01
    Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (swampygirl)
  3. 05
    CliffsNotes on Defoe's Moll Flanders by Nancy Levi Arnez (espertus)
    espertus: Another 18th century bawdy picaresque novel
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English (52)  German (3)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (59)
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
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 |
Fielding is a master craftsman! In this book he managed to make loving into an art and embellished it with great humor. Don't we all wish we lived life with the same vigor?! ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
When Squire Allworthy returns home to find someone has left a baby boy in his bed, his sense of charity prompts him to adopt young Tom Jones and raise him almost as a son. When the Squire’s sister and brother-in-law die, he also adopts his nephew, Mr. Blifil, whose animosity towards Tom grows over the years until he is able deceive the Squire into thinking Tom has committed an unpardonable offense and gets Tom thrown out of the house. To make matters more complicated, Tom and his neighbor’s daughter, Sophia, are in love, although both know that they can never marry because he is too far beneath her. When Tom is thrown out of the house and Sophia runs away to avoid being forced to marry Mr. Blifil, a man she hates, they both end up in London after many adventures on the road. In the end, everyone who deserves to lives happily ever after.

At 800 pages of small font, this is difficult to get through, but it is enjoyable. Fielding introduces each chapter with an essay on morality which is intended more to make fun of his contemporaries than it is to instruct the reader. These get tedious after a while, but they are fun when you first realize what he’s doing. Overall, I enjoyed the humor of the novel, but I wish it had been significantly shorter.
( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
A great book. It's very similar to his earlier novel Joseph Andrews, with like characters, plot and themes but here writ much larger and full of the same energy. ( )
  Lukerik | Oct 20, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (97 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fielding, Henryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alopaeus, MarjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bender, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chappell, WarrenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cleland, T. M.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hutchins, Robert MEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kermode, FrankAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keymer, TomEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kronenberger, LouisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mutter, R.P.CEditorsecondary 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 12 descriptions

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140436227, 0141199733

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