Tom Jones (Oxford World's Classics)
Tom Jones (Oxford World's Classics)
Henry Fielding, John Bender
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Fielding's comic masterpiece of 1749 was immediately attacked as `A motley history of bastardism, fornication, and adultery'. Indeed, his populous novel overflows with a marvellous assortment of prudes, whores, libertines, bumpkins, misanthropes, hypocrites, scoundrels, virgins, and all too fallible humanitarians. At the centre of one of the most ingenious plots in English fiction stands a hero whose actions were, in 1749, as shocking as they are funny today. Expelled from Mr Allworthy's country estate for his wild temper and sexual conquests, the good-hearted foundling Tom Jones loses his money, joins the army, and pursues his beloved across Britain to London, where he becomes a kept lover and confronts the possibility of incest. Tom Jones is rightly regarded as Fielding's greatest work, and one of the first and most influential of English novels.
This carefully modernized edition is based on Fielding's emended fourth edition text and offers the most thorough notes, maps, and bibliography. The introduction uses the latest scholarship to examine how Tom Jones exemplifies the role of the novel in the emerging eighteenth-century public sphere.
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Invitations of this Sort, which every one who hath conversed with Country Gentlemen, must have heard, no one, I believe, hath ever seen a single Instance where the Desire hath been complied with. A great Instance of their Want of Politeness: For in Town, nothing can be more common than for the finest Gentlemen to perform this Ceremony every Day to their Superiors, without having that Favour once requested of them. To all such Wit, Jones very calmly answered, ‘Sir, this Usage, may, perhaps,
thousand Times more handsomer.’ Here ill Luck, or rather good Luck, sent Mrs. Western to see her Maid in Tears, which began to flow plentifully at her Approach; and of which being asked the Reason by her Mistress, she presently acquainted her, that her Tears were occasioned by the rude Treatment of that Creature there, meaning Honour. ‘And, Madam,’ continued she, ‘I could have despised all she said to me; but she hath had the Audacity to affront your Ladyship, and to call you ugly.—Yes, Madam,
Consideration that he had nothing to lose. Jones being assured that he could have no Bed, very contentedly betook himself to a great Chair made with Rushes, when Sleep, which had lately shunned his Company in much better Apartments, generously paid him a Visit in his humble Cell. As for the Landlord, he was prevented by his Fears from retiring to Rest. He returned therefore to the Kitchen-Fire, whence he could survey the only Door which opened into the Parlour, or rather Hole, where Jones was
Vanity in every human Composition, there is perhaps no Individual to whom she hath not allotted such a Proportion of both, as requires much Art, and Pains too, to subdue and keep under. A Conquest, however, absolutely necessary to every one who would in any Degree deserve the Characters of Wisdom or Good-Breeding. As Jones therefore might very justly be called a well-bred Man, he had stifled all that Curiosity which the extraordinary Manner in which he had found Mrs. Waters, must be supposed to
presently recovered her Confusion, and with a Smile full of Sweetness, said, ‘Is this the mighty Favour you asked with so much Gravity. I will do it with all my Heart. I really pity the poor Fellow, and no longer ago than Yesterday sent a small Matter to his Wife.’ This small Matter was one of her Gowns, some Linnen, and ten Shillings in Money, of which Tom had heard, and it had, in reality, put this Solicitation into his Head. Our Youth, now emboldened with his Success, resolved to push the