Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Book 15- Tom Jones

I just finished book 15 which is Tom Jones by Henry Fielding. I liked this book, but it wasn't my all time favorite. I am beginning to see a pattern here with the books that Mr. Daniel S. Burt adds to his list. The majority of them seem to be about infidelity. Dude, seems to have a bit of thing with it!!!

The one thing that I liked about this book is that the writer is a part of the book. He frequently stops his story and directly speaks to the reader. This makes them feel like an active part of the story as well. One of the funny quotes like this was a discussion where he talked about the view from the top of a hill and he concluded by saying, "how to get thee down without breaking my neck I do not know" as though both the author and the reader where actually standing on the hill. Each chapter had headings and some of them were quite comical including these,

"containing such grave matter that the reader cannot laugh once through the whole chapter".

"Most dreadful chapter indeed; in which few readers ought to venture upon in an evening, especially when alone"

Tom Jones is a lovable character. He is full of character flaws, but the reader can tell that he is not a bad person inside. His predominant flaw is a penchant for being easily swayed by the temptation of a beautiful lady. Despite this, he never hides his flaw and is completely open with the world about it (much to his frequent distress). Here are a few quotes about him:

"Though he did not always act rightly he never did otherwise without feeling and suffering for it"

"A single bad act no more constitutes a villain in life than a single bad part on the stage"

A man who commits evil is not totally bad and corrupt in his heart"

Another interesting thing about this book, is that it reminded me a great deal of Don Quixote. Although I hated that book at the time I read it I am now very glad that I have read it because it appears to be an often quoted or used piece of literature. Tom Jones is similar to Don Quixote in that the main characters both go on quests with a completely ridiculous scaredy-cat side kick willing to sacrifice everything in hopes of furthering the hero. There was infact several references to Don Quixote including this one, Tom Jones had a "gallant disposition which inclines men to knight-errantry, that is to be the champions of ladies in distress.

Being a book about infidelity it is also a book about love. Tom Jones is on a road to personal discovery as he travels to London to make his fortune in the world. On the way he is prepared to eventually be worthy of the women he loves. Here are some quotes about love.

The disease of the mind do in almost every particular imitate those of the the affair of love...this proneness to relapse is no less conspicious"

(This is at least the second book to refer to love as a disease!)

Love, I believe, is the child of love only"

"To love the creature who we are assured hates us is not in human nature"

The main point of the book seems to be about the fact that the author is using Tom Jones as a teachable moment so we can learn from his mistakes. Here are a few things that point to this:

"when we find such vices attended with their evil consequences to our favorite characters, we are not onlly taught to shun them for our own sake, but to hate them for the mischief they have already brought on those we love"

"I discern follies and vices too sufficient to repent and to be ashamed of, follies which have been attended with dreadful consequences to myself.

There were a lot of other things to say about this book, but I will leave it at that. I do have a tendency to ramble on. The next posting I post will likely be from the UK! If you have been following my book blog please also join me as I daily check in from my trip. I tend to do a daily log of my crazy shenanigans. i will also, while in London, be reading book 16 which is Great Expectations. As it is partially set in London and I hope to go to the Charles Dickens museum this is very exciting!!! I will leave you with one last quote from Tom Jones on London:

" you have the advantage of solitude without its disadvantage, since you may be alone and in company at the same time."

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