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 neighbouring squire – though he sometimes succumbs to the charms of the local girls.
But when his amorous escapades earn the disapproval of his benefactor, Tom is banished to make his own fortune. Sophia, meanwhile, is determined to avoid an arranged marriage to Allworthy's scheming nephew and escapes from her rambunctious father to follow Tom to London.
A vivid Hogarthian panorama of eighteenth-century life, spiced with danger and intrigue, bawdy exuberance and goodnatured authorial interjections, Tom Jones (1749) is one of the greatest and most ambitious comic novels in English literature.
About the Author
Henry Fielding (1707 - 54) started his career as a playwright until his outspoken satirical plays so annoyed Walpole's Government that a new Licensing Act was introduced to drive him from the stage. He turned to writing various 'comic epics in prose', including SHAMELA (1741), JOSEPH ANDREWS (1742) and TOM JONES (1749). A master innovator, he is credited with creating the first modern novels in English.
Review by John Purcell
If Samuel Richardson wrote about how the good should behave, Henry Fielding wrote about how the good do, in fact, behave.
Fielding knew that no one is perfect, that even those with the best intentions stumble, that a person may do wrong by following what they think is right and that one person’s misfortune is another’s gain.
Tom Jones is a book for all ages because it's a book which takes humanity as it is as its model, describing our many imperfections as readily as our momentary perfections.
Bold, bawdy and boisterous in one moment, wise, subtle and endearing in the next, Tom Jones, by way of its many excellences, defies classification and critique.
I foolishly put off reading Tom Jones because I believed it was difficult to read. I was wrong. Tom Jones is accessible, true to life, funny, exciting, relevant, extraordinarily wise, and a book we should all one day read. I advise that you make ‘one day’ today.
I loved this book.
There is a set of religious, or rather moral, writings which teach that virtue is the certain road to happiness, and vice to misery in this world. A very wholesome and comfortable doctrine, and to which we have but one objection, namely, that it is not true. From Henry Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling
Series: Penguin Classics
For Ages: 18+ years old
Number Of Pages: 1024
Published: May 2005
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.9 x 12.9
Weight (kg): 0.66
Edition Number: 1