Henry Fielding, TOM JONES



context - biography - text - chapter summaries - criticism - filmography



Our own suggestions while reading each chapter / links to individual chapters





British History. timeline: 18th century <http://pages.unibas.ch/shine/brithist/bhist18.html>
Main events between 1700-1800, with links

18th Century Resources - History. J. Lynch. <http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/18th/history.html>
some good links

John Rocque's Map of London, Westminster and Southwark (1746) <http://www.motco.com/map/81002/>
a perfect map of London for our purpose; zoomable; place names can be searched etc.

Greenwood's Map of London (1827) <http://users.bathspa.ac.uk/greenwood/imagemap.html>
too late, but excellent navigation, can be zoomed

18th Century Road Maps <http://www.gracegalleries.com/English_Road_Maps.htm>
commercial site with some road maps

William Hogarth, paintings <http://www.peterwestern.f9.co.uk/hogarth/hogarthgallery.html>
Private Website with good reproductions of main works

The relative value in U.K. pounds <http://eh.net/hmit/ppowerbp/>
Find out what a sum in pounds was worth any time before 2002

Henry Fielding, Biography

Henry Fielding. Literary Encyclopedia article by Thomas R. Cleary, University of Victoria, British Columbia. First published 07 July 2001 <http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=1525> (last visit: July 05)
Extensive biography (longer than in our edition)

Henry Fielding Biography and Bibliography< http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/hfieldin.htm> (last visit: July 05)
A short biography, main works

Fielding Biography Spark notes (<http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/tomjones/context.html>
A short biography, main works

Full Text Online

Fielding, Tom Jones,
Full text online, searchable (search engine)

Tom Jones <http://fielding.thefreelibrary.com/The-History-of-Tom-Jones-a-Foundling/>
Full text online


Plot structure and summaries

suggestions while reading each chapter / links to individual chapters
notes, questions, links

Plot overview (Spark Notes) <http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/tomjones/summary.html>
short summary of whole plot

Plot summaries (Spark Notes) <http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/tomjones/section1.html>
short summaries for all chapters

Literary Encyclopedia article by Thomas R. Cleary, University of Victoria, British Columbia. First published 25 November 2001 <http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=8394 > (last visit: July 05)
A helpful general essay: genre, plot structure


Tom Jones and Wolfgang Iser's Reception Theory

Unsworth, John. "Tom Jones The Comedy of Knowledge" Modern Language Quarterly, 48.3 (September 1987) <http://www.iath.virginia.edu/~jmu2m/modern.language.quarterly.48:3.html> (last visit: July 05)
Fielding's novel relies on the reader's participation. Characters are revealed to us in how they choose and evaluate evidence. Difference between first and second reading. The novel as a lesson in humility for the reader.

Cerny, Lothar. "Reader Participation and Rationalism in Fielding's Tom Jones" Connotations 2.2 (1992): 137-162 <http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/connotations/CERNY22.HTM> (last visit: July 05)
Cerny questions Iser's approach as such - Iser's theory is wrong because it is founded on a misreading of Fielding's irony when he addresses the "sagacious reader". Fielding is making fun of Locke's rationalism.

Hudson, Nicolas. "Fielding and the 'Sagacious Reader': A Response to Lothar Cerny" Connotations 3.3 (1993): 79-84 <http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/connotations/HUDSON31.HTM> (last visit: July 05)
Hudson agrees with Cerny's point. Tom Jones as a novel concerned with the difficulties of judgement, a "novel crafted for a cynical world by a deeply committed idealist."

Hammond, Brean S. "'Mind the Gap': A Comment on Lothar Cerny". Connotations 3.1 (1993-94): 72-78 <http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/connotations/hammon31.htm> (last visit: July 05)
Hammond agrees that there is an anti-rationalist bias in Fielding; he sees only small differences between Iser and Cerny, both being liberal humanists: "Whereas Iser thinks that Fielding has contrived it such that the reader will actively collaborate in the construction of the proper way to be human, Cerny thinks that 'the author always guides the reader in a process of communication which achieves a fusion of irony and satire with empathy and charity'."

Cerny, Lothar. "Fielding, Reception Theory and Rationalism: A Reply to Brean Hammond and Nicholas Hudson". Connotations 3.1 (1993): 85-89 <http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/connotations/cerny31.htm> (last visit: July 05)
"Fielding, like Richardson, wanted to teach. But while Richardson drifted towards tragedy, Fielding used the (gently) distorting mirror of comic epic."

Harrison, Bernard. "Gaps and Stumbling-Blocks in Fielding: A Response to Cerny, Hammond and Hudson". Connotations 3.2 (1993-94): 147-172 <http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/connotations/HARRIS32.HTM> (last visit: July 05)
An analysis of the encounter between Allworthy and Dr. Blifil, based on an argument between Iser and Stanley Fish. Iser sees a "gap" between Fielding's praise of Allworthy's perfection and Allworthy's failure to detect hypocrisy. Fish counters that there might be readers who do not see a discrepancy because they think that moral goodness is always vulnerable. For Harrison, Allworthy's defects show that moral principles alone cannot produce perfection: Fielding is discussing moral questions, he shows that the dualistic opposition of "good vs. evil" is not the same as principle vs. appetite; spirituality vs. worldliness; reason vs. passion. The reader does not encounter "gaps" but "stumbling-blocks": "points in the text at which the commonplace assumptions or fore-understandings about ... notions [e.g. of good and evil] which he brings with him to the text are challenged and brought under pressure."

Cerny, Lothar. "'But the Poet . . . Never Affirmeth': A Reply to Bernard Harrison". Connotations 3.3 (1993-94): 312-317 <http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/connotations/cerny33.htm> (last visit: July 05)
Tom Jones is not a "Bildungsroman": Tom reaches prudence not by learning, just by marrying Sophia.

Toker, Leona. "If Everything Else Fails, Read the Instructions: Further Echoes of the Reception-Theory Debate" Connotations 4.1-2 (1994-95): 151-164 <http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/connotations/toker412.htm> (last visit: July 05)
Definitions of "blanks", "vacancies", "gaps"

Iser, Wolfgang. "EUREKA: The Interpretation of Tom Jones. Some Remarks Concerning Interpretation. A Reply to Lothar Cerny" <http://sun3.lib.uci.edu/~scctr/Wellek/iser/eureka.html> (last visit: July 05)
Iser's defense and counter-attack. Difference between "methods of interpretation" and "theory": "Theories generally provide premises, which lay the foundation for the framework of categories, whereas methods provide the tools for processes of interpretation. [...] If the degree of abstraction is the precondition for the success of categorization, then, clearly, the theory tends to screen off the individuality of the material, whereas it is the central function of interpretative methods to bring out and elucidate this very individuality. ".


Tom Jones
(UK, 1917) dir. Edward Collins. black and white, silent

Tom Jones (UK, 1963) dir. Tony Richardson. Screenplay John Osborne. (Albert Finney, Hugh Griffith, Susannah York, Joan Greenwood, Rosalind Atkinson)  121 min.  (4 oscars)

The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones (UK, 1976) dir. Cliff Owen (Nicky Henson, Trevor Howard, Joan Collins) 94 min.  (Musical)

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (UK, 1997) dir. Metin Hüseyin (Max Beesley, Samantha Morton, James D'Arcy, Frances de la Tour)  95 min (BBC, 5 episodes)


Seminar Tom Jones / winter term 2004/5
Department of English
University of Basel