Henry Fielding, The Life and Death of Jonathan Wild, the Great

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The Life of Mr. Jonathan Wild is among Fielding’s least-read novels for one simple reason: it wears its agenda on its sleeve. The book is neither fish nor fowl—or in this case, novel or history—as the ‘hero’ of the book, the real-life villain, Jonathan Wild, bears only the flimsiest likeness to his fictional counterpart. Perhaps a better way to understand its genre would be to consider the stage, which Fielding had abandoned prior to the novel’s publication in 1743. The world of applause and greasepaint can be glimpsed in its numerous breakaway dialogues (such as the famous scene between Wild and his wife in Book 3, Chapter 8), madcap pacing, and stock characters. There is good reason that …

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Citation: Grasso, Joshua. "The Life and Death of Jonathan Wild, the Great". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 October 2018 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=362, accessed 07 February 2023.]

362 The Life and Death of Jonathan Wild, the Great 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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