The Life and Death of Jonathan Wild, the Great – Henry Fielding

Henry Fielding is a favourite author. I read Tom Jones sometime in my early youth and it was a revelation. Till then I assumed old English books were going to be prim and proper. Heroes were going to be heroes in the traditional sense. Tom Jones, with his eye for mischief and pretty ladies was a profound Aha! So I picked up this book in one of my visits to Blossom, and it lay there untouched because I was reading the likes of Geroge R R Martin in the meantime.

Now that I say I read it, I also mean to say I cheated a bit. I didn’t like it that much, so I skimmed through some passages. It must be the underlying politics of the whole thing that got me a bit bored. I am pretty familiar with archaic English usage, and I find Fielding’s language humorous and interesting but in my experience I have always found works with an underlying motive/reason of sarcasm not up-to the author’s usual standard(Don’t get me started on Ayn Rand). I read later about Walpole and again goes another Aha! moment.

The story is pretty basic. It is based on Jonathan Wild, the famous thief/thief-taker. The specific stories are fiction, and so does I think the characters other than Wild. It shows Wild in many of his robbings/blackmailing schemes, and the major thread is his plot against the innocent Heartfree and his loyal wife. Wild being the GREAT MAN in this book, Heartfree’s naivety and goodness is presented as weaknesses. It all ends well, with the Heartfrees united, with their fortune restored, the lady not being raped and the GREAT MAN himself hanged.

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