Style: Fielding is a genially intrusive narrator. He points out the creaky mechanics of the plot while lecturing the reader on good breeding. This is a device to conceal the author's muscular intelligence and aesthetic virtuosity.
Chief strengths: Pervasive good humour. It is enriching to spend time in Fielding's company. Tom remains likeable and is an intelligently sustained character despite the loonier exigencies of plot.
Chief weakness: Apart from Tom, the characters have a tendency to turn into chipboard dummies.
What they thought of it then: Generally popular, though Boswell (a fan) noted Johnson's severe strictures: Fielding understood only the outer mechanics of character and knew nothing of ''the recesses of the human heart''.
What we think of it now: Critics tend to go on about the brilliance (or otherwise) of the plot and ignore Fielding's unfashionable critique of feminine writing.
Responsible for: The blokeish, social, didactic strain of English fiction from Dickens to Kingsley Amis.Reuse content