Henry Fielding

The History of Tom Jones by Henry Fielding

Easton Press Henry Fielding books

The History of Tom Jones - 100 Greatest Books Ever Written  - 1979

Franklin Library Henry Fielding books

The History of Tom Jones - World's Best Loved Books - 1978
The History of Tom Jones - 100 Greatest Books of All Time -1979
The History of Tom Jones - Great Books of the Western World - 2 Books 1981
The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling - Oxford Library of The World's Greatest Books - 1984

Author Henry Fielding biography

Henry Fielding (April 22, 1707 – October 8, 1754) was an English novelist and dramatist known for his significant contributions to the development of the English novel. Born in Sharpham Park, Somerset, England, Fielding belonged to a family with a strong literary and theatrical background. His father was a retired army lieutenant turned playwright, and his mother came from a family of judges. Fielding's education at Eton and later at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands was a precursor to his interest in literature and the arts. However, financial difficulties forced him to abandon his studies, and he returned to London to pursue a career in writing. Early in his literary career, Fielding wrote a series of plays, including comedies and farces, which gained him recognition in the London theatrical scene. In 1731, he produced his first major success, Don Quixote in England, a play that displayed his flair for satire. Fielding's comedies often lampooned the societal and political issues of his time.

Fielding's most enduring contribution to English literature came in the form of the novel. His first novel, Shamela (1741), was a satirical parody of Samuel Richardson's popular novel Pamela. However, it was with Joseph Andrews (1742) that Fielding made a lasting mark on the literary landscape. This novel is considered one of the earliest works in the genre of the English novel and is known for its humor, satire, and realistic portrayal of characters. In 1749, Henry Fielding published his masterpiece, Tom Jones. This novel is often regarded as one of the greatest achievements in the history of the English novel. Tom Jones is a picaresque novel that follows the adventures and misadventures of its eponymous hero, depicting 18th-century English society with wit and insight.

He wrote and produced theatrical comedies, the best of which are The Tragedy of Tragedies, or Tom Thumb (1730), and the social satires Pasquin (1736) and The Historical Register for 1736 (1737). He was called to the bar in 1740 and in 1748 became justice of the peace for Westminster, where he served as chairman of quarter sessions in 1749. As justice of the peace, he was seriously concerned with the elimination of such social problems as ruffianism. This concern is manifested in his novel Amelia (1751) and in a pamphlet entitled An Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers (1751). Henry Fielding wrote essays on political and other subjects and had them published in The Covent Garden Journal, name Sir Alexander Drawcansir. The greatest contribution made to English literature by Fielding was his novels. Fielding's first novel, Joseph Andrews (1741), was originally intended to be a parody on Pamela, by Samuel Richardson, but Henry Fielding became so interested in the portrayal of several secondary characters, that his skillful characterizations almost eclipse his clever parody. Fielding strove to draw his characters from all levels of society and considered his novels the prose prototype of the mock epic. Henry Fielding is outstanding among the early English novelist for his ability to evolve a plot which, although it contains the variety of picaresque romance, unfolds in a unified and coherent manner. This ability is best exemplified in his chief work, Tom Jones (1749). Among his other writings are Miscellanies (3 vols., 1743), which include the satirical works The History of the Life of the Late Mr. Jonathon the Life of the Late Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great and A Journey from this World to the Next; and Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon, which was published posthumously.

Aside from his literary pursuits, Fielding had a career in law and public service. He served as a magistrate and worked towards legal reforms, contributing to the establishment of London's first police force, known as the Bow Street Runners. Henry Fielding's health began to decline in his later years, and he passed away on October 8, 1754. Despite the brevity of his life, Fielding's impact on English literature remains profound. His innovative narrative techniques, satirical wit, and realistic portrayal of characters have secured his place as a pioneering figure in the development of the English novel.

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

Often known simply as Tom Jones, this is a comic novel by English playwright and novelist Henry Fielding. It is a Bildungsroman and a picaresque novel. It was first published on 28 February 1749 in London and is among the earliest English works to be classified as a novel. It 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. The novel's events occupy eighteen books. It opens with the narrator stating that the purpose of the novel will be to explore "human nature". 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, a servant of a schoolmaster and his wife, as the most likely person to have committed the deed. Jenny is brought before the Allworthys and admits being the one who put the baby in the bed, but she refuses to reveal the father's identity. Mr Allworthy mercifully removes Jenny to a place where her reputation will be unknown and tells his sister to raise the boy, whom he names Thomas, in his household.

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.

A baby is deposited in the bed of Squire Allworthy, a wealthy widower in Georgian England. The baby is given the name of Tom Jones and given to Allworthy’s live-in sister to raise. She soon marries and has her own son, and the two boys are raised together, with the usual household rivalries and jealousies. As Tom reaches his late teenage years, he discovers the several young ladies that surround, but especially the one that lives next door. Circumstances eventually lead to Tom being thrown out of Allworthy’s house, and the bulk of the novel is about the resulting adventures and pursuit of his beloved Sophia. Tom Jones is many a coming-of-age story, a romance, a picaresque, but it is first and foremost a comedy. It is also one of the earliest English novels, and was hugely popular when it was released, going through four printings in its first year. Fielding used the first chapter of each of its eighteen “books” to weigh in on a wide-range of topics, from critics to religion, and his narrator is as important a character in the novel as Tom himself. Highly regarded and highly popular, it is still in print over three-and-a-half centuries after its initial success.

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling stands as a landmark work in the realm of the English novel. This sprawling epic is not merely a narrative; it's a profound exploration of human nature, society, and morality in 18th-century England. At its core, "Tom Jones" is the tale of the eponymous protagonist, Tom Jones, a young man of natural charm and charisma. The novel traces his journey through life, love, and society, creating a vivid and sprawling portrait of a bygone era. Fielding's narrative is a masterclass in character development, presenting a wide array of personalities, each representing different facets of human nature. Fielding's "Tom Jones" is characterized by its sharp wit and biting social satire. Through his characters and their interactions, Fielding dissects the hypocrisies, prejudices, and moral double standards prevalent in 18th-century England. He exposes the flaws and follies of his society, often with humor, but always with a keen eye for injustice. One of the central themes of "Tom Jones" is the exploration of morality and virtue. Fielding challenges conventional notions of morality by presenting characters who are complex and morally ambiguous. The novel raises questions about the nature of virtue, the influence of social circumstances, and the role of forgiveness and redemption. Fielding's narrative technique is a marvel in "Tom Jones." He employs a third-person omniscient narrator who provides commentary, insight, and humor throughout the story. The novel is divided into eighteen books, each with its own thematic focus and moral lessons. Fielding's prose is both elegant and playful, demonstrating his mastery of language and storytelling. "Tom Jones" is often regarded as one of the earliest examples of the comic epic in prose. Fielding's novel combines the scope and complexity of an epic with the humor and satire of comedy. It explores the grand themes of love, honor, and destiny while navigating the often absurd and comical aspects of human behavior. Tom Jones himself is a character of great complexity and depth. He possesses both admirable qualities and significant flaws, making him a relatable and realistic protagonist. Fielding invites readers to witness Tom's growth and maturation as he navigates the challenges of society and the temptations of his own nature. Love is a central theme in "Tom Jones," and Fielding presents various forms of love, from romantic to familial, in all their complexity. Through the characters of Tom and Sophia Western, he explores the idea of true love transcending social barriers. The novel also delves into the consequences of infidelity and the complexities of human relationships. "Tom Jones" emphasizes the role of chance and fate in human lives. Characters often find themselves in unexpected situations, and the novel questions whether destiny or individual choices determine one's path in life. Fielding's exploration of these themes adds depth and unpredictability to the narrative. Henry Fielding's "Tom Jones" has left an enduring legacy in the world of literature. It paved the way for the modern English novel by introducing a more complex and realistic portrayal of human nature and society. Writers like Charles Dickens and Jane Austen drew inspiration from Fielding's work, incorporating his themes and narrative techniques into their own novels.

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