The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding


Henry Fielding

Henry Fielding (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The History of Tom Jones, a FoundlingThe History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding

 

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

 

The audio version can be found at LibriVox.

 

Book X – Chapter i:

 

Reader, it is impossible we should know what sort of person thou wilt be; for, perhaps, thou may’st be as learned in human nature as Shakespear himself was, and, perhaps, thou may’st be no wiser than some of his editors. Now, lest this latter should be the case, we think proper, before we go any farther together, to give thee a few wholesome admonitions; that thou may’st not as grossly misunderstand and misrepresent us, as some of the said editors have misunderstood and misrepresented their author.

 

Thou art to know, friend, that there are certain characteristics in which most individuals of every profession and occupation agree. To be able to preserve these characteristics, and at the same time to diversify their operations, is one talent of a good writer.

 

Book X – Chapter ii:

 

It hath been a custom long-established in the polite world, and that upon very solid and substantial reasons, that a husband shall never enter his wife’s apartment without first knocking at the door. The many excellent uses of this custom need scarce be hinted to a reader who hath any knowledge of the world; for by this means the lady hath time to adjust herself, or to remove any disagreeable object out-of-the-way; for there are some situations in which nice and delicate women would not be discovered by their husbands.

 

Book XVI – Chapter i:

 

To say the truth, I believe many a hearty curse hath been devoted on the head of that author who first instituted the method of prefixing to his play that portion of matter which is called the prologue; and which at first was part of the piece itself, but of later years hath had usually so little connexion with the drama before which it stands, that the prologue to one play might as well serve for any other. Those indeed of more modern date, seem all to be written on the same three topics, viz., an abuse of the taste of the town, a condemnation of all contemporary authors, and an eulogium on the performance just about to be represented. The sentiments in all these are very little varied, nor is it possible they should; and indeed I have often wondered at the great invention of authors, who have been capable of finding such various phrases to express the same thing.

 

Book XVII – Chapter i:

 

When a comic writer hath made his principal characters as happy as he can, or when a tragic writer hath brought them to the highest pitch of human misery, they both conclude their business to be done, and that their work is come to a period.

 

This kind of criticism reminds me in some way of Voltaire’s works.

 

A movie Tom Jones (1963) with Albert Finney, Susannah York, George Devine and a TV series The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1997) were made based on this book.

 

 

 

 

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