Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Tom Jones Paperback – September 23, 2016
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Tom Jones - A young fellow with many "imperfections" if so they may be called, but a robust fellow with a "good heart." Prudence and what is commonly called virtue are not his strong suit - But may I remind the reader that virtue comes from the Latin word for "manliness"- Tom is certainly possessed of the word's etymological origins, if not of its modern usage (particularly in amorous matters)--And a good thing too, or we should have no story here to delight us!
Squire Western- Another rambunctious character, who, for me, typifies all that is Eighteenth Century England. Every time he appeared in this book, whether it was to comment on wenching, wine, or riding to hounds a smirk would immediately cross my face followed invariably by chuckling by the end of the chapter.
Henry Fielding - The author plays as much a part of the book as any of the characters with many prologues and prefaces and etc. For these, and for much of the rest of the book, I might add, the reader who has not had four years of Latin inculcated into him at an English boarding school would do well to buy the Oxford edition, which fully explains all the learned quotes - Also, as one who was thus inculcated but is inclined to laziness, the Oxford edition's notes prove extremely helpful also. Fielding also gives us a lively picture of the literary life of his time, which the Oxford footnotes do a deft job of explaining- In short, buy the Oxford edition.
This review can not be comprehensive. There are simply too many characters to even make a go at encompassing them all. I'm merely describing some of the, to me, more delightful ones.
The book as a whole is simply a joy to read, in its comic descriptions of all who will deign to admit that they are human, and of some priggish sorts who will not so deign. I can put it no better than Fielding Himself at the beginning of Book XV:
"There are a set of religious, or rather moral writers, who teach that virtue is the certain road to happiness, and vice to misery, in this world. A very wholesome and comfortable doctrine, and to which we have but one objection, namely, that is not true."
In short, this is a delightful ramble of a book which, while entertaining the reader not too attached to Sunday School, sheds light on how unvirtuous the virtuous can be, and how kind and good-natured the roguish can be as well as giving us as good a history lesson on the state of affairs in Eighteenth century England (with attention given to the Jacobite Rebellion etc.) as many a "proper" history does.
Who, I ask myself, would not delight in this book? ---Well...for the priggish, there's always Jane Austen.
What you want to know is, is this a good book for us in the 21st century. And here, it's not so clear. The dialogue is pretty brisk, and some of the exchanges (the stereotypical Whig Mrs. Western arguing with her Jacobite brother is a particular treat) are actually funny. The latter part of the novel evolves into a farce, with a dozen characters engaged in scheming against one another, while Tom and Sophia helplessly go along. Farce works better in drama, where it has a faster pace, but it's always a welcome mode of comedy. You don't see enough farces.
Some of the characters are evocative (why do I picture Blifil as looking like Ted Cruz?) but some are not: Dowling is just a lawyer, and Mrs. Miller is a good woman, like thousands who have come since, and that's all there is to it. It's not as if every character needs to, or can, be a fully realized person, but the parts of the novel spent with these human plot devices do feel mechanical.
But Mr. Partridge, Tom's traveling companion, is in a different category altogether, and he just poisons the parts of the novel that he features in (chiefly the middle third). Eighteenth Century literature has a depressing reliance on goofy loose-lipped sidekicks: Mr. Partridge, Hugh Strap, Humphrey Clinker, Andrew Fairservice, Friday. Sometimes they're servants, but sometimes they're just stupid friends.
Part of this must be practical: It's difficult to follow a wandering hero (and why are the heroes of these novels always wandering? But that's a different question altogether) without giving him a friend to talk to. Maybe early novelists had a hard time sketching characters who didn't have a way to discuss the ongoing action.
But mostly, I think this is the bad influence of Don Quixote, which was becoming increasingly popular in England during this period. Sancho Panza is OK, and he's certainly the funniest element of that leaden tome. But Mr. Partridge *is* Sancho Panza, cowardice, superstition and all, and one Sancho Panza was more than enough. You know? There's a limited number of things that a silly, selfless, lazy pal can do, and it's hard to read about the same old doofus, yet again.
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.