Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 16, Chapter 1

By Henry Fielding

Book 16, Chapter 1

Of Prologues

  • The narrator complains that he spends more time on each of these prefaces to the books of Tom Jones than on the books themselves.
  • (He makes a similar comment in Book 5, Chapter 1, so clearly he's been fussing about this for at least the last eleven books.)
  • If you look at prologues on the stage they often have nothing to do with the content of the rest of the drama.
  • Similarly, future readers of Tom Jones might look at these prefaces and think that they could go equally well with another book in Tom Jones, or with another novel entirely.
  • But however difficult it may be for the author to keep coming up with these prefaces, they are useful for the reader.
  • These prefaces always include something that the critic can attack, so that he can get into fighting shape to tear apart the rest of the novel.
  • Lazy people can also benefit, since they don't have to read the introductory chapters.
  • They can save some time and just skip to the main body of the work.
  • There are lots of other reasons why prologues and prefaces are good things.
  • But the narrator thinks they're too obvious to point out here.
  • After all, the best thing about both prologues and prefaces is that they are short.