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Tom Jones (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – October 15, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


`with each volume having an introduction by an acknowledged expert, and exhaustive notes, the World's Classics are surely the most desirable series and, all-round, the best value for money' Oxford Times

`well-produced edition.' Daily Telegraph Arts and Books section, 5 July 1997

About the Author

John Bender is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. He is author of Spenser and Literary Pictorialism and Imagining the Penitentiary: Fiction and Architecture of Mind in Eighteenth-Century England, co-editor of The Ends of Rhetoric and Chronotypes: The Construction of Time, and associate editor of The Columbia History of the British Novel. Simon Stern is completing a study of literary property and professional authorship in eighteenth-century England, focusing on Henry and Sarah Fielding.

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 968 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; 1 edition (October 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199536996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199536993
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.9 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Tim Lieder on December 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
There are a great deal of very big books that aren't worth the effort. Actually there are a great deal of short books that aren't worth the effort. This book is not only huge, it's also a very slow read. The first few hundred pages alone are a bit of a slog as Fielding feels the need to explain every single attitude and scandal that went into the creation of Tom Jones - adopted son of the rather obviously named Allworthy.

HOwever, the slowness becomes a virtue as you want to live in Fielding's world after a time. Tom Jones is in love with Sophia, the neighboring squire's daughter and since he's the bastard son of a vanished serving girl he doesn't have a chance. So in true double standard, he charms and seduces women throughout the countryside, all the while trying to get with Sophia who is fleeing from an arranged marriage with Jones' adopted cousin.

There is a lot to recommend about this book but one of the most interesting ones is the relative standards of morality. Fielding takes a very modern view of morality in that the priests and the philosophers and the openly virtuous characters are hypocrites and creeps, whereas the randy and seducing Tom Jones is held up as the moral paradigm due to his sweet nature and ability to go out of his way for a friend or comrade. This would prove to be a controversial standard in Fielding's time and one wonders what the Victorians would have made of it, but in this era when we are almost certain that the examplars of morality (be they preachers or radical vegetarians) are actually truly horrible people (Falwell's sermons, Morrissey's animal-rights motivated racism, Catholic priest molesters,etc.) this book is almost too appropriate in speaking to our notions of decency and morality.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By BVLenci on September 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a review of the Oxford Classic Kindle edition.

The book itself is one of the greatest novels ever written; this is maybe the third time I've read it. Fielding is a master of irony, by which I mean genuine irony, not the mean sarcasm that often passes for irony these days. Fielding is never mean-spirited. His irony is generous and his humor is benevolent. His characters are three-dimensional, never all good or all bad. Before reading this, I had been re-reading several Dickens novels, and the contrast is enormous. A Dickens villain is a villain to the core, and his heroes (and especially his heroines) are saints. Tom instead is a young man with many faults, but a great heart. Sophia, his beloved, is a genuinely good person, but she's got a certain fiery spirit, and has her moments of doubt and remorse.

I advise you to read every word of this novel. It's divided into books, and the first chapter of each book is an address to the reader, expounding Fielding's theories on literature and on human nature. An impatient reader might be tempted to skip these, but that would mean missing a lot of worthwhile and enjoyable reading.

I have some quibbles with the Kindle edition. There were some mistakes in the passage from print to pixels, but they were not excessive. The biggest problem is that the excellent notes often have a reference to another note, with the page number, e.g., a note might be only "See note on page 85." As the book proceeds, more and more of the notes are references to earlier notes. However, there is never a link to these earlier notes, and when reading a Kindle, finding the note on page 85 is not an easy matter. Other than that, the Kindle edition is a pleasure to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laurence R. Bachmann VINE VOICE on March 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
Henry Fielding's Tom Jones is an absolute delight, and a bit of a miracle. It is a chock-a-block history, romance, philosophic muse and satire poured into the fledgling genre we call the novel. Fielding is thankfully unlike a few of his more off-putting contemporaries-- the rather dour Daniel Dafoe or the priggish Samuel Richardson. His story is bursting with folk both virtuous and vile; saintly and slimy. And yes it is a very big book. But complaining about Tom Jones' length is like saying the Grand Canyon is too big. Size is one of the things that makes both Grand.

One of my first observations was the unrestrained nature of fiction before the Victorians got their hands on it. Unwed mothers, adulterers of both sexes, attempted rapists, kidnappers, hypocrites and robbers abound. Firecrackers that keep the plot popping colorfully along. Equally apparent is how generous and uncritical Fielding is of human failing--this is no tongue-clucking, finger-wagging scold who is too good for the sorry lot we call humanity. Indeed, rogues and scoundrels are punished lightly, if at all. And while Fielding always distinguishes the bad from the good, he fully expects mankind to spend more time with the former than the latter.

Above all, Tom Jones is great fun. Tom, Sophia, Mr. Western, Squire Allworthy, Partridge, Lady Belaston, Blifil, Thwackum and Square: a gloriously motley crew, gamboling across hundreds of pages. I lost count of the number of times I laughed out loud at some observation or characterization. In the end I found myself wanting more, not less of this very, very, very big book.
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