Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Henry Fielding: 'The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling' (1749), Part II

William Hogarth, Enraged Musician. (1743) Tate, London. 

Henry Fielding (1707-1754), The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. London: Andrew Millar, 1749. 

We now continue exploring Fielding's ideas and use of language. 

[The novel is divided into eighteen "books" (sections), each with its own chapter numbers starting with "i." References will be made to book number followed by chapter number; parenthetical page numbers correspond to the Modern Library edition published in 1985. For Part I, here's a magical link.]  

On not being able to completely mask one's love for another, even when trying to, for the sake of diplomacy, in mixed company, unless among very unobservant people:

Notwithstanding the nicest Guard which Sophia endeavored to set on her Behaviour, she could not avoid letting some Appearances now and then slip forth: For Love may again be likened to a Disease in this, that when it is denied a Vent in one Part, it will certainly break out in another. What her Lips therefore concealed, her Eyes, her Blushes, and many little involuntary Actions, betrayed. (V: ii) (pages 218-219). 

At one point, Tom Jones stumbles onto his tutor Mr. Square with his old flame Molly. 

"Fitness," says Square in their defense, "is governed by the Nature of Things, and not by Customs, Forms, or municipal Laws. Nothing is, indeed, unfit which is not unnatural." (V: v) (page 232).
Jean-Étienne Liotard, La Belle Chocolatière (circa 1744). Gemäldegalerie Alte MeisterDresden.
Alcohol and human nature:

To say Truth, nothing is more erroneous than the common Observation, That Men who are ill-natured and quarrelsome when they are drunk, are very worthy Persons when they are sober: For Drink, in reality, doth not reverse Nature, or create Passions in Men, which did not exist in them before. It takes away the Guard of Reason, and consequently forces us to produce those Symptoms, which many, when sober, have Art enough to conceal. It heightens and inflames our Passions (generally indeed that Passion which is uppermost in our Mind) so that the angry Temper, the amorous, and all other Dispositions of Men, are in their Cups heightened and exposed.  (V: ix) (page 253). 

After a lengthy discussion about types of Love, Fielding reaches out directly to anyone reading him (including his critics), in a saucy manner:

Examine your Heart, my good Reader, and resolve whether you do believe these matters with me. If you do, you may now proceed to their Exemplification in the following Pages; if you do not, you have, I assure you, already read more than you have understood; and it would be wiser to pursue your Business, or your Pleasures (such as they are) than to throw away any more of your Time in reading what you can neither taste not comprehend. (VI: i) (page 271).

Today's Rune: Movement. 

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Strangely, the name Sophia has been a prominent part of my experience in the past two days. I know two people personally who have children by that name and both were talking about their kids yesterday