Who wrote this book and when?
Henry Fielding (not Helen Fielding’s Great-grandfather, btw) wrote this hefty novel in 1749.
To the best of my knowledge, there has been only one movie version of Tom Jones. It starred Albert Finney and Susannah York (do you know who they are?) and was made in 1963. But, according to Wikipedia, they made two operas as well.
Obviously, Tom Jones – a bastard child raised in a squire’s house.
Sophia Western – the daughter of another squire, she’s in love with Tom but engaged to…
Master Blifil – Squire Allworthy’s nephew. He’s arrogant and conniving. He doesn’t so much like Tom.
Squire Allworthy – a very well thought of country gentleman. He raises Tom as his own.
Squire Western – Sophia’s father.
Partridge – Tom’s friend and traveling companion
The narrator – he’s the narrator. But a narrator with class.
What is it about?
We first meet Tom in Master Allworthy’s bed – where he mysteriously appears one morning. Despite the fact he has no apparent mother or father, Squire Allworthy raises him as his own son. The majority of the story tells of Tom and his love for Sophia Western, and the hijinx that ensue as a direct result of that love. For an insult he did not give, Tom is thrown out of Squire Allworthy’s house and forced to fend for himself. Sophia runs away from home with her maid rather than be married to someone she despises, and the rest of the story tells of their chance meetings, their pursuits of each other and their other “rendevous” with sometimes hilarious, sometimes tragic individuals.
First off, this novel is credited as being one of the most influential in developing the novel as a literary form. Now, in understandable English – before this book was written, writing a made-up story wasn’t considered “tasteful.” Fielding has divided this book into 18 “chapters” – with several sections in each chapter. The first section is always dedicated to describing what a good fiction novel should be like, while casually mocking the writing norms of the day.
Why should I read it?
Because it’s hilarious. Despite the fact it was written in 1749 and the language is a bit tricky at times (arm yourself with a dictionary for the big words), this book is still just as fresh and funny now as it was back then when it causes an earthquake in the literary world at it’s publishing. Back in Fielding’s day, one just didn’t joke about sex and use the double entendre. (That means talking about one thing and implying something else sexual). This book has a happy ending without being forced. It’s entertaining and makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something when you’ve overcome it’s 700 plus pages.
And guys, if you ever want to pick up some good stuff to write in a love letter to your favorite girl, check out the description of Sophia Western. It’s amazing.
The 1963 movie won Academy Awards up the wazoo, and all of the leading and supporting actors and actresses were nominated for Academy Awards for their respective roles.
If anyone would write a modern version of this story, I think it’d top the best – sellers list. And it’s good to know people in the 1700’s thought about sex, too.