Tag Archives: Henry Fielding

If Fielding Had Written about Trump

Henry Fielding would have had a field day writing about America’s president.

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Update on My Heart Condition

I now have a possible explanation for last week’s heart episode. Henry Fielding’s “Tom Jones” helped lead me to it.

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Dying of a Broken Heart

Two 18th century items: Henry Fielding believed that it was possible to die from a broken heart, which some speculate explains actress Debbie Reynolds’s death after her daughter Carrie Fisher died. And prankster Jonathan Swift has a characteristic list of New Year’s resolutions.

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Defending Homer against Plato

Plato’s attacks on Homer have to do with the bard’s focus earthly concerns rather than higher ones. Following Plato’s prescriptions, however, will not produce very interesting poetry.

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Ted Cruz as Lucifer, “Squat Like a Toad”

After John Boehner compared Sen. Ted Cruz to Lucifer, I went looking through “Paradise Lost” to find passages that would apply. I found a particularly good one but, if you ask me, Cruz more resembles Blifil, Tom Jones’s nemesis.

Posted in Fielding (Henry), Milton (John), Shakespeare (William), Stoker (Bram) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Detecting the Person behind the Poetry

What we find when we look for the person behind the literary work.

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Falling Out of Love with Tom Jones

I have fallen out of love with “Tom Jones.” One reason may be because of the author’s sense of entitlement.

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Reading Novels for Moral Instruction

“Tom Jones” teaches how to raise adolescents. And how not to.

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10 Famous Fetish Objects in Lit

Literature is filled with fetish objects that take on outsized significance to various characters.

Posted in Dickens (Charles), Fielding (Henry), Poe (Edgar Allan), Pope (Alexander), Proust (Marcel), Rushdie (Salman), Shakespeare (William), Sir Gawain Poet, Wycherley (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sexual Misconduct in the Classics

A sexual misconduct course required of all employees got me thinking of problematic situations in the books that I teach.

Posted in Austen (Jane), Behn (Aphra), Bronte (Charlotte), Burney (Fanny), Euripides, Fielding (Henry), Montagu (Lady Mary Wortley), Sir Gawain Poet, Wilmot (John) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Comedy & Sentiment, a Potent Mixture

Literature that moves the heart seems opposed to comedy, but sometimes they work together.

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Top 10 Parent-Child Classics (Positive)

A top ten list of classics with positive depictions of parent-child relationships.

Posted in Dickens (Charles), Eliot (George), Hughes (Langston), Lee (Harper), Stowe (Harriet Beecher) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lit’s Ten Most Sensitive Guys

To match my 10 strongest literary women characters, here are my 10 most sensitive male characters.

Posted in Austen (Jane), Baldwin (James), Dickens (Charles), Dostoevsky (Fyodor), Fielding (Henry), Fitzgerald (F. Scott), McCarthy (Cormac), Melville (Herman), Milton (John), Steinbeck (John) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Love Life, Say No to Christian Masochism

Tom Jones gives us a healthier vision of Christianity than that which puts all the emphasis on worldly suffering.

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Taking a Break from Politics

Sometimes, like Mr. Hardcastle in “She Stoops to Conquer,” one needs a break from the world’s news.

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Fielding’s Satire Applied to the 1%

Fielding satiric attacks on the cheats of his day could apply to Wall Street financiers and other wealthy Americans who refuse to share.

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Life as a Stage Coach Ride

America is in many ways like the stage coach rides described by Samuel Johnson and Henry Fielding.

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Bloggers Confused Like Novelists of Old

Bloggers are facing confusion about rules similar to that faced by early novelists.

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Lit Options for Election Day Defeat

Responding to election day loss, will we be calm like Henry Fielding or in agony like Grendel?

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Novels and Baseball Fans, Fixated on Time

As I watched the amazing day of baseball last Wednesday, I found myself thinking (being the literature nerd that I am) that the English novel was invented to do justice to reality when it got this dramatic and complex.

Posted in Defoe (Daniel), Dickens (Charles), Fielding (Henry), Sterne (Lawrence) | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One of Literature’s Sexiest Eating Scenes

Homer gains Fielding’s admiration by his ability to move seamlessly between epic grandeur and “the shameless dog of the belly.” Perhaps it is Homer’s dexterity that gives Fielding the idea for his own contribution to “Great Eating Scenes in Literature.”

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Eric Cantor and Famous Literary Sneers

If you’ve been paying any attention to America’s budget battles, you know that Congressional Republicans are currently engaged in a dangerous game of chicken with President Obama over raising the debt ceiling. Today’s post on the subject features a parallel with Macbeth and a glance at famous literary sneers.

Posted in Bronte (Emily), Fielding (Henry), Shakespeare (William), Shelley (Percy) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Satirizing Doctors, the Best Medicine

Doctors debate while patient dies in Hogarth’s “Harlot’s Progress,” plate V I’ve talked several times about my friend Alan, who has been battling cancer for a while now.  At present he is still alive, still working out at the gym, and still in the dark about what kind of cancer he has.   He longs for […]

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Neuro-Lit: English’s “Next Big Thing”?

A number of my friends have sent me the following New York Times article about the “next big thing in English”: neuro-lit.   Apparently fictionally identifying with story characters and plots is being studied from a brain point of view.  Researchers are looking at how many levels of abstraction the mind can hold (Virginia Woolf is credited […]

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Bridging the 18th-Century Generation Gap

Yesterday my 18th Century Couples Comedy class concluded our discussion of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones. We spent a lot of time talking about how it was popular with youthful readers in the 18th century, an idea I owe to J. Paul Hunter, my dissertation director at Emory University. Paul explores the issue in Before Novels: […]

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A Punch in the Gut of Excessive Sobriety

Punch and Judy Let’s declare another comedy Friday and celebrate again the wit of Henry Fielding.  My first passage is a continuation of the mock epic encomium (expression of praise) to the book’s heroine that I posted yesterday: Reader, perhaps thou hast seen the statue of the Venus de Medicis. Perhaps, too, thou hast seen the gallery […]

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Idealism Under Siege, Irony to the Rescue

The Princess Bride, True Love Triumphant  In my Tom Jones class earlier this week, one of my students (Erin Hendrix) noted that one of the passages made her think of a scene in the movie The Princess Bride. This led to a discussion of how both works employ irony to help us hold on to […]

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Satirizing the Intolerant

 Daniel Defoe My daughter-in-law sent me a wonderful poem by Daniel Defoe, “A True Born Englishman,” posted by Andrew Sullivan in response to a Patrick Buchanan editorial.  Buchanan’s column was one of those hateful “they’re taking our country away from us” pieces, and Sullivan rightly asks who this “us” is.  As Sullivan’s translates it, Buchanan is […]

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Henry Fielding’s Comic Touch

I’ve just written a series of serious posts about literature and virtue, but since it’s Friday, let me go out of the week on a light note. Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones is not admired the way it once was, but one would be hard pressed to find any novel that is funnier. I share here […]

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For Vice: Novels, Not Stern Lectures

William Hogarth, “The Harlot’s Progress,” plate 4.  Continuing our discussion of whether literature can teach virtue, I present as an interesting case study Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, which I am currently teaching in my 18th Century Couples Comedy class.  I’ve mentioned in a past post that moralist Samuel Johnson attacked Tom Jones for corrupting young people. Furthermore, the Bishop of London accused […]

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Danger: Georgian Teens Reading Novels

Samuel Johnson  If we need proof that adolescence has always been a difficult age, we can look at those 18th century moralists that were panicked about young people reading novels. Of course if you’re young (to build off of a comment that Barbara makes in response to Friday’s post), part of the fun of reading […]

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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