Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 18, Chapter 1

By Henry Fielding

Book 18, Chapter 1

A Farewel to the Reader

  • Well, we've reached the last book of Tom Jones.
  • The narrator compares the time we've spent reading this novel to the experience of a bunch of strangers traveling together in a long-distance coach.
  • During these long-distance rides, strangers will joke or even argue with each other.
  • But by the end of the ride, everyone becomes aware that they may never see their travel companions again.
  • So they get really sentimental and start to talk about serious things.
  • Similarly, we're going to get down to business in this last book.
  • It's going to be all plot all the time—no more musings about the nature of Literature or Mankind.
  • The narrator wishes us well. It's been fun!
  • He hopes that we have enjoyed the novel.
  • It may be that some of the material in this book has offended us.
  • But he doesn't mean any harm.
  • Other authors have accused him of being excessively rough and rude in his writing.
  • This is ridiculous: it's Fielding who has been subjected to rudeness by these critics of his work.
  • His main comfort is that he believes his work will outlive not only Fielding himself (which is definitely true), but also the weak writing of his contemporaries (more debatable).