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by Henry Fielding
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I don’t think anyone has ever been haunted by Tom Jones. Delighted, for sure, but not haunted. Does that mean that Samuel Richardson and his aesthetic heirs wrote better books? I’m surprised to find that I’m not sure anymore.
Shandy makes the Cervantes/Fielding/Dickens picaresque look like a straight walk down a well-lit road. It is both a challenge to read and a sustained work of jumpy, distracted hilarity. Attention deficit, for Sterne, is not something to be feared in the reader — it is the basis for his process of composition.
The current PBS Masterpiece series mashes the "class" buttons hard, in both the literary and the economic senses. But its relationship with the English novel is more complicated than it might appear.
Whether we go back again and again to a classic or pick up an old favorite to see how it has fared or dig deep into the treasures of our youth, rereading is an experiment that is bound to change us, and to change our impressions of the books we read.
For about a year, the books in our apartment threatened to swallow my husband and me. Adding another bookcase, like adding another lane to an already clogged freeway, didn't help--it only encouraged us to read more.