- Paperback: 816 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 2 edition (November 17, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393965945
- ISBN-13: 978-0393965940
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 209 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #964,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tom Jones (Norton Critical Editions) 2nd Edition
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About the Author
Sheridan Baker is Professor Emeritus of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan. He is the author of many works, including The Harper Handbook to Literature, Ernest Hemingway: An Introduction and Interpretation, The Complete Stylist, The Essayist, and The Practical Stylist. He is co-author of The Written Word and The Practical Imagination. He is currently at work on two volumes for the Wesleyan University Press’s Works of Fielding.
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Top customer reviews
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The narrator, Bill Homewood, who performed the audio version of the work was excellent doing the various characters as well as the invisible narrator (author) of the story. The Synopsis is as follows:
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.
It is rather brilliant, and there is no lack of shenanigans as we follow Jones through his history and the reader never knows when and where the author will abruptly go off on a tangent, told in a most eloquent manner, end with a flourish and no doubt tossed his quill down and took a bow. I am either taken in by some farce or thoroughly enchanted by this author. As Fielding is rather the loquacious writer this read comes in Audible time at almost 38 hours or roughly 1,000 pages but worth every minute spent on it.
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.
The characters are wonderfully flawed, especially Tom. The invention of the snarky narrator was a landmark invention. You not only follow the story of Tom but you make the journey with a narrator who is fun to hang out with. And you need a fun companion because it's a long story.
Fielding certainly influenced how the writers who followed him handled comedy. Charles Dickens and Mark Twain are all descendants of Henry Fielding.
Tom Jones is a classic.