Henry Fielding, Tom Jones

Thomas R. Cleary (University of British Columbia)
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Tom Jones

(1729), the novel generally considered Henry Fielding’s masterpiece, richly lives up to the generic formula he earlier applied to

Joseph Andrews:

it is a fully developed “comic epic in prose”. The subject-matters it treats epi-comically are very precisely those of the

Bildungsroman

(the novel of growing up or maturation) and the novel of moral and social testing and education. As implied in its full title,

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling,

a central issue is the true parentage of Tom and thus of his personal, familial and class identity, so that the novel has affinities with traditional romance where obscurities and suddenly resolving clarications of true identity are common, and also looks forward to mystery fiction.

Allusively divided into eighteen books (halfway

2232 words

Citation: Cleary, Thomas R.. "Tom Jones". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 November 2001 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=8394, accessed 12 June 2024.]

8394 Tom Jones 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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