The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

Introduction

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, often known simply as Tom Jones, is a comic novel by English playwright and novelist Henry Fielding. It is both a Bildungsroman and a picaresque novel. It was first published on 28 February 1749 in London, and is among the earliest English prose works to be classified as a novel.[1] It is the earliest novel mentioned by W. Somerset Maugham in his 1948 book Great Novelists and Their Novels among the ten best novels of the world.[2] It totals 346,747 words divided into 18 smaller books, each preceded by a discursive chapter, often on topics unrelated to the book itself. It is dedicated to George Lyttleton.

The novel is highly organized, despite its length. Samuel Taylor Coleridge argued that it has one of the "three most perfect plots ever planned."[3] It became a best seller, with four editions being published in its first year alone.[4]

Tom Jones is generally regarded as Fielding's greatest book and as a very influential English novel.[5]


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