The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling 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 RevolutionFor Than Seventy Years, Penguin Has Been The Leading Publisher Of Classic Literature In The English Speaking World With Than , 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

Henry Fielding was born in Somerset in 1707 The son of an army lieutenant and a judge s daughter, he was educated at Eton School and the University of Leiden before returning to England where he wrote a series of farces, operas and light comedies.Fielding formed his own company and was running the Little Theatre, Haymarket, when one of his satirical plays began to upset the government The passin

[KINDLE] ❄ The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling By Henry Fielding –
  • Paperback
  • 975 pages
  • The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
  • Henry Fielding
  • English
  • 05 November 2019
  • 9780140436228

10 thoughts on “The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

  1. says:

    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. says:

    975 Tom Jones The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, Henry FieldingThe 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 Further, he promises his sister to raise the boy, whom he names Thomas, in his household characters Tom Jones, Squire Allworthy, Sophia Western 1984 1361 809 9789644480782 1368 1377 1388 18

  3. says:

    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. says:

    2005 Penguin Classics editionFor 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 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 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 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 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 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 clich 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 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 easily than 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 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 real, and I treasure it , 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 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 .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. says:

    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 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 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. says:

    809 , , 17 18

  7. says:

    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 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.

  8. says:

    18 ..

  9. says:

    Around the world the trip begins with a kiss Roam, The B 52 s, 1989I 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

  10. says:

    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 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 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 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 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 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 277That women frequently find themselves with child, and often abandoned, is the shame of men 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 real discredit from hypocrites than the wittiest profligates or infidels could ever cast upon them chokengis

    titikchokeng71 he was as honest as men who love money better than any other thing in the universe generally are p211 zeal can no 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 505The 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 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 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 s 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.

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