London: A. Millar, 1749. First Edition. Hardcover. 6 vols. 1st edition, 1st printing of 2,000, complete with the errata leaf in vol. I, Rothschild’s cancels (B9–10 in vol. I, B4–5 in vol. II, H8–10 and M3 in vol. III, and N8 in vol. V), and the blanks. Contemporary full calf, title and vol. number labels, tips and joints strengthened, former owner’s name and tiny stamp, else very good, and a set of this 1st edition in a new binding is a rhinoceros in hot pants. Inferior sets are more expensive, comparable ones much more so, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. Coll: 12mo. lxii, [2, errata], 214; [2, title], 324; [2, title], 370; [2, title], 312; [2, title], 291; [2, title], 304 pages. Very good. Item #456
Is a Tom Jones 1st edition priced like ours easy to find? No. It requires patience, and while patience is not the most important virtue, it is the one that sets up all the others. So, you ask, what is the secret to patience? It’s having something else to do. The invention of the novel, as we know it, is open to diverse interpretations. Amadis de Gaul (1508), Don Quixote (1605), and Robinson Crusoe (1719) are among those often championed as early precursors of their respective centuries. However what’s broadly accepted as the move from harbinger to modern followed 3 steps. The first was Richardson’s Pamela (1741), but Pamela is an epistolary novel, the plotline revealed in a series of letters, and these types of novels are about the act of writing in which the characters write about, rather than experience, life. The second was Fielding’s Joseph Andrews (1742). In it Fielding defined the novel as art in a new mode. But Joseph Andrews still connected to Pamela by its very characters (Joseph is Pamela’s brother). Conversely, Tom Jones was to prior novels what the machine gun was to horse cavalry, an ambrosial fiesta of breakout ingenuity using the shoulders of its predecessors not to stand on but to leap from. And Fielding knew it, and in his elaboration of the rules for his new form, he concluded that it is truer than history, having a greater and deeper veracity. The 1963 film was one of cinema’s greatest. It won the Oscar for best picture and though it isn’t as intricate as the book, it still offers a night of exhilarating joy for the price of a Netflix download. Repeat after me. Light hearts live long. Say it again. Light hearts live long.