In February 1749, the greatest comic novel of the eighteenth century, Henry Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling, was published. Such was the demand that all 2,500 copies in print had already been sold by the date announced for its official publication, a phenomenon that one observer believed to be “an unheard-of case.” Tom Jones quickly sold 10,000 copies, making it one of the great best-sellers of its time; it has never since been out of print.1
KeywordsEighteenth Century Real History Modern Reader Legal Writing Glorious Revolution
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- 7.Walter Scott, Waverley (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981). See esp. the first chapter of the novel, “Introductory” where Scott makes a claim for the originality of a novel set so specifically “Sixty Years before this present 1st November 1805” (4).Google Scholar
- 10.William Empson, “Tom Jones,” in Using Biography (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984), 132. This is an edition of his uncollected essays, which Empson prepared shortly before his death. The essay on the novel had originally appeared in The Kenyon Review 20 (Spring 1958).Google Scholar
- 13.James Joyce, Ulysses (New York: The Modern Library, 1934), 193.Google Scholar