So I just started reading The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. I knew it was going to be great because my erudite great uncle mentioned it in the same sentence as Look Homeward, Angel, David Copperfield, and The Adventures of Augie March, three pillars of the bildungsroman genre, and all on the list of the top 100 works of classic literature.
I’ve just begun and already I’m sucked in. The primary reason is that the plot is sound. Immediately there is a serious event – the foundling’s placement in the arms of Mr. Allworthy, whose name says it all, and the subsequent attempt at finding out whose child it is.
But what really turns me on is the way Fielding guides the reader where he wants when he wants, and yet remains free from any touchstone of judgment. The sexual promiscuity that has already entered the plot is what made it seem low in the 18th century. And the hints at the picaresque love-story that will soon emerge already excites me.
Fielding reminds the reader of his literary artifice, an important aspect of the novel. The goal for me in my attempt at novel-writing is to do the same thing, except the narrator is telling the story about himself. And in the same way that this novel takes the place of the epic, perhaps my story will emerge as a new form that replaces the novel.
The Author: Monika Keith