Tom Jones Essays

Tom Jones Essays-33
, which Fielding had previously and famously derided.Then, responding to the long critical history surrounding the representation of experience in the novel, I argue that experience, for Fielding, is not constitutive of but superfluous to character identity.

, which Fielding had previously and famously derided.Then, responding to the long critical history surrounding the representation of experience in the novel, I argue that experience, for Fielding, is not constitutive of but superfluous to character identity.

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Discourse time and story time are inextricably mixed in the clause and sub-clause. What Iser does not see or state clearly is that even "gaps" and "blanks" are a means of directing the reader.

The gap is, if at all, the illusion of freedom to fill something in.

As nothing of importance has happened in the history of Tom Jones, so he tells the reader, he intends to pass over a long stretch of time.

The reader, therefore, has a chance of intelligent participation, The vacant spaces in the text, here as in Joseph Andrews, are offered to the reader as pauses in which to reflect.

The ambiguity of the verb "possessed" is a special case of irony which allows Fielding to say and not say what he means.

The very readers who are stupid enough to swallow his bait, "Sagacity," and believe (like the ass in the fable) to know better than the real craftsman, are the ones to whom the satirical epithet "possessed" applies.Perhaps the crowning absurdity in this passage is the offer of a twelve years' gap to be filled by volunteers.What they are offered is literally a stretch of twelve years in which to have their say.Černý argues thath Iser’s reading of Fielding does not seem quite close enough.He offers a deeper reading of how Fielding satirizes the rationalist principle of contrast by employing the very means he attacks.After the ironic captatio benevolentiae Fielding then resorts to hysteron proteron, expressing his conviction that the conjectures about the characters and their actions will exercise "some of the most excellent Faculties of the Mind." It would be much more "useful," indeed, to foretell "the Actions of Men in any Circumstance from their Characters" rather than to take the trouble to judge them by their actions.In the light of this ironic inversion of cause and effect it is not surprising that Fielding emphasizes the great difficulty of exercising this talent, assisted though it be by "Penetration" and "Sagacity," of course.They give him the chance to enter into the proceedings in such a way that he can construct their meaning. His approval of Bridget Allworthy's strict [→page 139] observation of mourning as far as her garments are concerned points in the same direction.First of all, Iser does not meet the tone of the passage, but falls, to put it bluntly, into the trap of Fielding's irony. We should not, therefore, put too much trust in the reader's "Sagacity" nor in his ability to contribute intelligent conjectures or to participate in the construction of meaning.I cannot agree with either of these propositions but shall argue that Fielding's aim was a composite one, ruled by feeling.[→page 138]One of Iser's main stays is a passage from Tom Jones in which Fielding expands on "the vacant Spaces of Time." In Chapter III.i Fielding addresses his reader, attributing to him, as so often, "Sagacity" (116).

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