Starting this week, Ken Knabb leads discussion of Henry Fielding's novel Tom Jones.
The group will be meeting every other Sunday at 4:30-7:00 p.m. (apart from a holiday break) in the University Press Bookstore (2430 Bancroft in Berkeley) through March 2018 and perhaps into April, seven meetings in all, followed by an eighth meeting to watch Tony Richardson's delightful film of the book. Afterwards we'll move on to the next work in our series.*
Hailed as the prototypical English novel, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling first appeared in 1749, influencing Jane Austen, Charles Dickens as he codified aspects of earlier novels for many other novelists since (whether they know it our not). More peculiar to this novel is its rather active third person narrator, who unabashedly interjects his opinions on the roiling action as he describes it, a device later novelists would give up on, in their efforts to emulate stage and screen, but a one that comes naturally from the way narrative began as spoken performance.
We will be using the Penguin Classics edition, edited by Thomas Keymer and Alice Wakely, but you are welcome to use any other edition you may have. Copies of the Penguin edition are available at the bookstore ($12).
For our first meeting please read Books 1 and 2 (pp. 35-106 of the Penguin edition).
You are welcome to join us even if you have to miss some of the meetings or get behind in the reading. We will be reading aloud extended passages from the book and our discussions will mostly center around those passages, so you will be able to take part even if you haven't been able to do the reading in advance.
Participation is free, but donations of $10 or so per meeting are suggested to help support the bookstore, which provides us with a pleasant meeting space and complimentary wine and snacks.
*Tom Jones is part of an ongoing series, led by Ken Knabb and hosted by the University Press Books store, in which we have explored these classic works: Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Montaigne’s Essays, Rabelais’s Gargantua and Pantagruel, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Madame de Lafayette's The Princesse de Clèves,. and Defoe’s Moll Flanders, after Fielding’s Tom Jones the group will read Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, Diderot’s Jacques the Fatalist, and Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson.