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Jonathan Wild (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 13 Nov 2003

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (13 Nov. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192804081
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192804082
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 2 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,187,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Claude Rawson is the author of many books, including Henry Fielding and the Augustan Ideal under Stress (1972), and most recently God, Gulliver, and Genocide: Barbarism and the European Imagination, 1492-1945 (OUP, 2001). Linda Bree is the author of Sarah Fielding (1996), and the editor of Sarah Fielding's The Adventures of David Simple (Penguin, 2002).


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Format: Paperback
A complete mastery of wit and satire with crisp fresh extraordinarily crystalline observation was a master-art of the golden age of Phampletters.Jonathan Swift enjoys a richly deserved reputation for the piercing razor sharp dismantling of the heirs and graces of the privileged elites by the weapon of the pen allied with penetrating mocking wit.Fielding also proved to be adroit as a practitioner of indefatigable sustained satire.

As Coleridge so correctly identified Henry Fielding deserves no lesser a standing as the humiliater of the leaders of society.In Jonathan Wild Fielding is at his perceptive and mocking best as he synonymously compares the virtues and grand visions of one of the most notorious underground criminals of the age and the Prime Minister Walpole , along with favourable comparisons with Alexander the Great and other ruthless tyrants and cruel rulers of the World.The morals of the great criminal class embodied in the character of Jonathan Wild is also seamlessly interchanged with the principles of the Political Class that run the country.In his exposition of what makes Men Great and Good we find on page 8 " For greatness consists in bringing all manner of mischief on Mankind , and Goodness in removing it from them,".So , according to Fielding, it is the duty of the criminals to steal from society in the form of robbery , and the duty of politicians to take the self-same booty in the form of taxation.Hence the great and the good are joined at the hip in the noble endeavour to relieve the citizens of their burden.
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For Henry Fielding, 'great men', like Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, and 'great rogues', like Jonathan Wild, are synonymous terms. Greatness consists in bringing all manners of mischief on mankind.
Alexander the Great overran a whole empire with fire and sword, pillaging, sacking, burning, enslaving and destroying millions of his fellow creatures. Julius Caesar abolished the republican liberties of his country in order to take the power into his own hands.
At the opposite side of the spectrum, Jonathan Wild was a great prig (pick-pocket), cheating the very tools who were his instruments to cheat others: 'I had rather stand at the summit of a dunghill, than at the bottom of a hill in paradise.'
For Henry Fielding, greatness rimes with ambition, lust, avarice, rapaciousness, hypocrisy, power, pride, insolence, insatiability, 'a privilege to kill, a strong temptation to do bravely ill'. Greatness is 'playing with the passions of men, to work one's own purposes out of the jealousies and apprehensions to create those great arts which the vulgar call treachery, dissembling, promising, lying, falshood, summed up in the collective name of POLLITRICKS.'
And all that for what? Not for the general good of society, but for the power and the glory of the great man himself, for the satisfaction of his vices.
The fact that 'he is hated and detested by all mankind makes him inwardly satisfied.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8c7444f8) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c9807d4) out of 5 stars What a wolf is in a sheepfold, a great man is in society 13 Dec. 2005
By Luc REYNAERT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For Henry Fielding, 'great men', like Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, and 'great rogues', like Jonathan Wild, are synonymous terms. Greatness consists in bringing all manners of mischief on mankind.

Alexander the Great overran a whole empire with fire and sword, pillaging, sacking, burning, enslaving and destroying millions of his fellow creatures. Julius Caesar abolished the republican liberties of his country in order to take the power into his own hands.

At the opposite side of the spectrum, Jonathan Wild was a great prig (pick-pocket), cheating the very tools who were his instruments to cheat others: 'I had rather stand at the summit of a dunghill, than at the bottom of a hill in paradise.'

For Henry Fielding, greatness rimes with ambition, lust, avarice, rapaciousness, hypocrisy, power, pride, insolence, insatiability, 'a privilege to kill, a strong temptation to do bravely ill'. Greatness is 'playing with the passions of men, to work one's own purposes out of the jealousies and apprehensions to create those great arts which the vulgar call treachery, dissembling, promising, lying, falshood, summed up in the collective name of POLLITRICKS.'

And all that for what? Not for the general good of society, but for the power and the glory of the great man himself, for the satisfaction of his vices.

The fact that 'he is hated and detested by all mankind makes him inwardly satisfied. Otherwise, why should he stand at the head of a multitude of prigs, called an army, in order to molest his neighbours, to introduce rape, rapine, bloodshed and every kind of misery on his own species, to desire maliciously to rob those subjects, to reduce them to an absolute dependence on his own will, to betray the interest of his fellow-subjects, of his brethren.'

Jonathan Wild: 'I ought rather weep with Alexander, that I have ruined not more.'

Another target of the author are the hypocritical priests: 'Life is sweet, I had rather live to eternity ... so many wallow in wealth and preferment.'

He insults the ordinary, who attends to the spiritual needs of condemned criminals; 'You are more unmerciful to me than the Judge.'

Henry Fielding's forceful diatribe against all conquerers, tyrants, pollitrickers, and vicious 'prigs' still sounds extremely modern.

He blames the majority of mankind to continue to praise the said great men.

But, 'there are still some, who view these great men with a malignant eye and dare affirm that these great men are always the most pernicious and generally the most wretched and truly contemptible of all works of creation.'

This book is a ferocious and, unfortunately, still very topical satire.

A must read.
HASH(0x8c5c02e8) out of 5 stars Four Stars 16 Nov. 2014
By angel fuentes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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