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Thread: The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding

    I am reading The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding, published in 1749. It's good. Fielding has a unique style and he is funny in a sardonic way. Definitely deserves its place.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User prendrelemick's Avatar
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    I think it's good too.
    Those were the very early days of the Novel and the genre hadn't settled down. He included stuff that has generally been dropped, and stuff that caught on and is not out of place today. The humour is timeless though. (and laugh out loud funny).
    ay up

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    It's not like a 19th Century novel, much less a 20th Century. That said, it is funny. The way the narrator intrudes and explains things is something that has fallen out of fashion. You don't get that in modern novels.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I wonder if any of the TV and film adaption have scenes of bare breasted women fighting like there are in the book. If not, why not?
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I was thinking that part 2 was not as good as part 1, but it is picking up again. I think it is the reintroduction of some of the characters from part 1; they are so good.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Just finished part 2, which was not as good as part 1, but still had its moments. On the historical side, one thing that surprised me was that there were quite a few people who supported the Jacobite cause in England. I thought it was only the Scots who wanted to replace George II (I think) with Bonnie Prince Charlie. Then again, I dare say many English people resented the German transplants and thought the Young Pretender had a better claim to the throne. Squire Western complains about being taxed to fund European wars in part 1 iirc.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    There were English Jacobites and the Young Pretender expected to rise joyfully in his support when he entered England. They didn't and having to as far as Derby decided to withdraw.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    One thing I like about Tom Jones over Jane Austen's books, is that Henry Fielding does not ignore 95% of the population like she does. All the plebs get their feelings and motivations explained. Nearly everyone is on the make to a greater or lesser extent. Even the squires, Squire Allworthy and Squire Western are not really like the gentlemen in Jane Austen's novels. I have not read many C18th books: only Toms Jones, Gulliver's Travels, Robinson Crusoe, Humphry Clinker and The Monk, so I cannot tell if Fielding's relative classnessless was characteristic of books from the time.

    I do like the humour. Even Sophie Western, who is perfect in virtue and beauty, is funny. She does not tell jokes, but her behaviour is amusing. I liked the nicknames she and her cousin gave each other while they were both under their aunt's care. Sophie's cousin called her Miss Graveairs, while Sophie called her Miss Giddy. They are perfectly in Sophie's character.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    I think society was changing by Austen's time. Fielding and Austen both portray a number of clergymen. There is quite a gulf between Mr. Trulliber, Abraham Adams, and Mrs. Slip-Slop (a clergyman's daughter) and Dr. Grant, Henry Tilney and Edmund Bertram. Even Mr. Collins is at least considered genteel, and fit to dine with Lady Catherine. In Fielding the clergy are hangers on like Thwackum or bumpkins, like Trulliber. In Fielding's time, there was the aristocracy (the landed class) and everyone else (at least that's what I gather from reading novels, I have no historical expertise here). By the mid nineteenth century, Rev. Crawley (from Barchester) could be completely impoverished, but still genteel enough that his daughter was courted by rich men. Even Charles Hayter -- although he was regarded as ineligible by the snobbish Mary Musgrove -- had social status above some of the Fielding clergy. I believe that bishops lived in luxury, even in Fielding's time. But other clergymen had not consolidated into a professional class, fit to mingle with the rich.

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Fielding did mention that two of his female peasant characters could claim their grandfathers were clergymen. He pointed it out as an area of concern. By Austen's time the clergy appears to have become a parachute profession for downwardly mobile younger sons.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    There were lower clergy in Jane Austen’s day, she just doesn’t mention them. Henry Tilney has a curate to take the services while he is at Northanger. Henry Crawford is surprised Edmund is expecting to live in his parish and take services every Sunday.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Wasn't Charles Hayter "lower clergy"? I don't really know much about Fielding (I read the novels decades ago) or his times. IN Trollope (who chronicles the clergy a half century or so after Austen, just as Fielding was a half century before her) the clergy seem to have their own social milieu, as well as mingling with the landed classes. So clergymen would (I'm guessing) associate with Charles Hayter, thus drawing him into wider circles, where he is fit to woo Henrietta Musgrove (if not one of the Eliot girls).

    Since you are an actual Englishman, I defer to your more expert knowledge of reality -- my knowledge is all fictional.

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I suspect Jackson Richardson is English, unless he's Welsh or Scottish, but he's not 250 years old.

    I was reading part 3, which I was thinking was getting a little moralistic, idealistic and unrealistic, when suddenly one of the characters subverts the tone.

    The part I was reading was about a friend of Tom's, who gets a girl in trouble. Tom was pleading with his friend to marry the girl; otherwise she would be ruined. She and her family would be shamed. No man would marry her. Respectable tenants would stop lodging at their house. It's a contrast to the other book I am reading, The Corner by David Simon and Ed Burns, creators of The Wire. The book is about drug culture in 1990s Baltimore. In that bit of reportage a 13-year-old girl is made pregnant by a 16-year-old, drug selling delinquent. I think in that culture most children learn who their fathers are when they are pointed out in the street.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    I know more about American history than I would if I hadn't gone to school in the U.S. I assume Jackson knows more about English history than I do (although I'm not sure, of course). In any event, knowing more than I would be no great mastery, since (as I said) I know nothing about the history of the English Church except what I've read in novels and seen in movies about St. Thomas More. I have gleaned a bit about the Church debates of the 19th century from reading the Barchester series, and, of course, I take the side of Septimus Harding and his cohorts for no better reason than that I think Mr. Harding cannot possibly be wrong.

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I am within the last 100 pages. Part 3 has picked up again, largely because all the great characters from part 1 have come back. My favourite characters:

    • Squire Western - irascible, insensitive, pig-headed
    • Mrs Western (his sister) - deluded, conceited and callous
    • Sophie Western - surprisingly amusing for a paragon of beauty and virtue
    • Mrs Honour - self-centred, conspiratorial
    • Mr Blifill - cunning, hypocritical, reptilian
    • Mr Allworthy - gullible


    I never entirely warmed to Mr Partridge, which is partly why I did not like part 2 as much.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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