A foundling of mysterious parentage brought up by Mr Allworthy on his country estate, Tom Jones is deeply in love with the seemingly unattainable Sophia Western, the beautiful daughter of the neighbouring squire – though he sometimes succumbs to the charms of the local girls. But when his amorous escapades earn the disapproval of his benefactor, Tom is banished to make his own fortune. Sophia, meanwhile, is determined to avoid an arranged marriage to Allworthy’s scheming nephew and escapes from her rambunctious father to follow Tom to London. A vivid Hogarthian panorama of eighteenth-century life, spiced with danger and intrigue, bawdy exuberance and good-natured authorial interjections, Tom Jones (1749) is one of the greatest and most ambitious comic novels in English literature.
In his introduction to this new Penguin Classics edition, Thomas Keymer discusses narrative techniques and themes, the context of eighteenth-century fiction and satire, and the historical and political background of the Jacobite Rebellion. This volume also includes a chronology, further reading, notes, a glossary and an appendix on Fielding’s revisions.