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The History of the Life of the Late Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great

3.33  ·  Rating Details  ·  335 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
"The History of the Life of the Late Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great" is one of the best works by Fielding. Through the strong and well-drawn character of Jonathan Wild, he presents biting sarcasm and humour. The work shows deep relations between a simpleton and a criminal at the peak of crime
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Published July 13th 2009 by ReadHowYouWant (first published 1743)
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Greg
Mar 17, 2010 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I have no idea how or when I got this book. I also have no idea about why I would have bought it. I don't ever remember going through any kind of Henry Fielding mini-fascination. The only thing I can think of is that I bought it during my 'gotta get lots of mass-market classics' phase of ought-three, or maybe felt guilty about not finding anything else in a bookstore and picked this up for thirty cents so I didn't feel like I was stealing (yes, I must buy something in just about every upstate NY ...more
Henry Avila
Jonathan Wild,1683-1725.The Thief- Taker General,was the most famous British criminal, of the 18th Century.After his demise,novelists,singers, satirists and reformers, praised and condemned, his career. Wild, became better know, after his death,from being hung, what else ? Then when he was alive.That's immortality for you!Henry Fielding's,(Tom Jones) black comedy, has little facts in it.It's really's about the corrupution of society ,then.Crooks prosper and honest folks, remain poor. Sounds fami ...more
Heather
May 03, 2009 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Oscar Wilde, wit and humor
Recommended to Heather by: it was on my study abroad reading list
Since most of my reading list for Underground London has been disastrously dull at best, I was quite taken by surprise at the wit and humor of Henry Fielding. Why haven't I read him before?

True, you may never be able to spell properly after reading this book and true, your moral sense of right and wrong might get permanently damaged. But most importantly, you will now be able to distinguish between a GREAT man and a GOOD man. They are not to be confused.

I think I enjoyed this waaaaay too much. A
...more
Anca
Dec 01, 2008 Anca rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 10
Henry Fielding a luat literatura nu ca un scop în sine când a scris Johnathan Wild, ci mai degrabă ca instrument politic, deşi nu-şi neglijează stilul specific britanic, cu reţineri, ezitări, aprecieri sociale, conversaţii şi referinţe la cititorii perioadei. E foarte evidentă intenţia de ironizare a oamenilor politici de influenţă ai perioadei, imediat ce treci de primele pagini. Dacă treci la citit fără nicio informaţie despre Anglia sec.XVII-XVIII, probabil că nu prinzi paralela pe care o fac ...more
Anna
For Henry Fielding, greatness rhymes with mayhem, and being a great man means bringing all kinds of mischief upon mankind.

The book was refreshing and well written, and at times I was amazed at the sheer wit possessed by Wild and his ability to influence even the smartest person with carefully chosen words. This book is a ferocious and, unfortunately, still very typical satire.
Andrew Kornfeld
Oct 18, 2010 Andrew Kornfeld rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think a lot of people would tend toward being super-cunty about the present-day value of eighteenth-century satire, but I finished this shit three hundred years later and it's still pretty damned funny. GOOD WORK, HENRY FIELDING. THANKS, EDITORS' EXPLANATORY NOTES.
Jesse
Jul 05, 2014 Jesse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is not to be doubted that there are two types of people in this world: the great and the good. Who is it that we admire? Henry would ask you, and you will know from the sentiments aroused in your breast, upon the mere perusal of this, a masterpiece of satiric writing if there ever was one, despite it not being quite so good as the very best of the inimitable Jonathan Swift; though it is more sweet and more instructive than anything that bitter heart could pen.
Glenn Stewart
I'm surprised that this book is so highly rated by so many, but I found little of the humor or wit that attracted me to Tom Jones, and without those there seems little else to recommend this book. It's a simple morality tale with the "Great Man" irony laid on heavily, but I found nothing that made it stand out. I've read a pack of picaresque novels and this falls on the lower end in inventiveness or interesting incidence. Wild is a static character, as many of Fielding's characters are, but he s ...more
John Mccullough
Fielding's take on the idea that you can either be good or great but not both (although you can be neither, of course). Wild is obviously great b ut not good. This is a take-off on a real person, also named Jonathan Wild, who was hanged at Tyburn in Fielding's lifetime. Also a bit of a political parody, punching England's buttons on its stance of being both good and great. Archaic language but easy reading as Fielding is a great (and good!) writer. Interesting contrast to Thomas de Quincey's ano ...more
Stephen Basdeo
Dec 22, 2014 Stephen Basdeo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely brilliant. Fielding, always an enjoyable read, brings to life a (somewhat fictionalised and caricatured) Jonathan Wild, Thief Taker and organised crime lord in the eighteenth century.
Nate
Feb 10, 2009 Nate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hans gruber
this book took me forever to read, not because its long (about 200 pages), or because its bad, but because i had the misfortune of starting it right near finals time which totally distracted me from doing anything fun. after it was over i couldn't really get back into it too easily. while the book wasn't bad, it wasn't specatular either, and if goodreads allowed half increments of stars, it would get a 3.5. the characters weren't as charming or rich as they were in tom jones, nor did it contain ...more
Graeme Hinde
There's not a stitch of character development here; in fact, apart from the Jonathan Wild himself who's name was appropriated from contemporary headlines, everyone's personality is quickly summed up by his surname (Fireblood, Heartfree, Straddle). But while the book lacks psychological appeal, it is a cuttingly funny satire of great men (particularly of Henry Walpole, about whom I knew nothing but now know a thing or two), and what the characters lack in inner complexity they make up for in scur ...more
Lorraine
a bit too long -- and so much trouble just to insult the guy!

great introduction though
Justin Evans
May 13, 2010 Justin Evans rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Satire this funny is a lost art. Maybe it's just that I'm particularly irritated by contemporary great-man worship (see especially: presidential biographies, founding-father blather, Darwinismism), but this was a nice breath of fresh air. Why don't more novelists these days write about the world instead of writing memoirs about their navel-fluff? I do not know.
Sylvester
I loved "Tom Jones", but this time round I found I could not abide Fielding's tangents. I like the take-it-to-the-wall satire, but the character development just wasn't there. Fielding was making a point, and he didn't bother with much else.
Claudia Marin
Apr 19, 2013 Claudia Marin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and the usual Fielding's incredible abilities in being an excellent narrator. However a bit long for the "simplicity" (if we could say so) of the plot and story (it's not a Tom Jones!)
Steph
May 16, 2009 Steph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It may only be 220 pages, but certainly not a quick read...full of lengthy and complex sentences, but Fielding is a master of construction...not to mention, it is funny!
Jenny
Nov 25, 2012 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grad-school
This was good, though Fielding's satire eventually gets a little one-note toward the end. A lot of it is genuinely funny, though not pitched for modern sensibilities.
Mary
Feb 10, 2013 Mary rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The subject matter was completely interesting, but it was just so difficult to get through I could not thoroughly enjoy the criminality and humor.
Patrick
Mar 26, 2012 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably the most ironic book I have ever read. Fielding is spot on about what goes into making "great men."
Fiona
2.5 but I'm being generous because at least it was interesting and I like Henry Fielding.
Victoria Vane
Began, but temporarily put aside. Intend to finish after some other books..
Emery Lee
Began, but temporarily put aside. Intend to finish after some other books..
Xdw
May 11, 2008 Xdw rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
tom jones "like". so far not as good, but still an enjoyable read.
Jenna
May 25, 2009 Jenna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Everytime I tried to read this book I fell asleep.
Renée
Jan 02, 2014 Renée rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting as Fielding always is, funny, cutting satire and my vocabulary enriched with new cant words
Jerry
Jerry marked it as to-read
May 19, 2016
Karen
Karen marked it as to-read
May 19, 2016
Ash C.
Ash C. marked it as to-read
May 18, 2016
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Henry Fielding was born in Somerset in 1707. The son of an army lieutenant and a judge's daughter, he was educated at Eton School and the University of Leiden before returning to England where he wrote a series of farces, operas and light comedies.

Fielding formed his own company and was running the Little Theatre, Haymarket, when one of his satirical plays began to upset the government. The passin
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“If we had any leisure we would here digress a little on that ingratitude which so many writers have observed to spring up in the people in all free governments towards their great men; who, while they have been consulting the good of the public, by raising their own greatness, in which the whole body (as the kingdom of France thinks itself in the glory of their grand monarch) was so deeply concerned, have been sometimes sacrificed by those very people for whose glory the said great men were so industriously at work: and this from a foolish zeal for a certain ridiculous imaginary thing called liberty, to which great men are observed to have a great animosity.” 1 likes
“Here, reader, thou must pardon us if we stop a while to lament the capriciousness of Nature in forming this charming part of the creation designed to complete the happiness of man; with their soft innocence to allay his ferocity, with their sprightliness to soothe his cares, and with their constant friendship to relieve all the troubles and disappointments which can happen to him. Seeing then that these are the blessings chiefly sought after and generally found in every wife, how must we lament that disposition in these lovely creatures which leads them to prefer in their favour those individuals of the other sex who do not seem intended by nature as so great a masterpiece! For surely, however useful they may be in the creation, as we are taught that nothing, not even a louse, is made in vain, yet these beaus, even that most splendid and honoured part which in this our island nature loves to distinguish in red, are not, as some think, the noblest work of the Creator. For my own part, let any man chuse to himself two beaus, let them be captains or colonels, as well-dressed men as ever lived, I would venture to oppose a single Sir Isaac Newton, a Shakespear, a Milton, or perhaps some few others, to both these beaus; nay, and I very much doubt whether it had not been better for the world in general that neither of these beaus had ever been born than that it should have wanted the benefit arising to it from the labour of any one of those persons.

If this be true, how melancholy must be the consideration that any single beau, especially if he have but half a yard of ribbon in his hat, shall weigh heavier in the scale of female affection than twenty Sir Isaac Newtons!”
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