The real-life Jonathan Wild, gangland godfather and self-styled 'Thieftaker General', controlled much of the London underworld until he was executed for his crimes in 1725. Fielding produced one of the greatest sustained satires in the English language based on his life.
'he carried Good-nature to that wonderful and uncommon Height, that he never did a single Injury to Man or Woman, by which he himself did not expect to reap some Advantage' The real-life Jonathan Wild, gangland godfather and self-styled 'Thieftaker General', controlled much of the London underworld until he was executed for his crimes in 1725. Even during his lifetime his achievements attracted attention; after his death balladeers sang of his exploits, and satirists made connections between his success and the triumph of corruption in high places. Henry Fielding built on these narratives to produce one of the greatest sustained satires in the English language. Published in 1743, at a time when the modern novel had yet to establish itself as a fixed literary form, Jonathan Wild is at the same time a brilliant black comedy, an incisive political satire, and a profoundly serious exploration of human 'greatness' and 'goodness'.
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).
Jonathan Wild by Henry Fielding
Oxford World's Classics
Used - Very Good
Oxford University Press
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