Andrea's Reviews > The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding
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's review
Nov 14, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, comedy, classics
Read in January, 1999

This book is hilarious. Fielding wrote it as a satire of his contemporaries, who were writing sappy morality plays full of classism, elitism and sexism. He can't write more than a few pages without taking pot shots at his rivals, literary critics, and the establishment in general. (There is a reason why the King of England kept shutting Fielding's playhouse down...) I would argue that Fielding was one of the first feminists, given his portrayal of intelligent female characters who are constantly fighting off oppression and misogyny at every turn. He also uses irony and wit to point out the evils of classism that elevates a cruel man of good birth over a "sinful" bastard who is kind and good-hearted. Fielding believes a person is good because they show love and compassion to others, not because they are born with a title or go to church every Sunday. He believes every individual has value, regardless of their gender or class. Fielding also believes in criminal justice, where criminals are investigated based on evidence and suspects are provided a fair trial. (Fielding was a judge and founded the first police force in London.) Tom Jones is really a vehicle for Fielding to expound on his beliefs about justice and humanity. The story is fun to read, but it is also a scathing critique of 18th century values and culture. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys British comedy, British history or Enlightenment philosophy.
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