Tom Jones Essays

Černý argues thath Iser’s reading of Fielding does not seem quite close enough.

He offers a deeper reading of how Fielding satirizes the rationalist principle of contrast by employing the very means he attacks.

Discourse time and story time are inextricably mixed in the clause and sub-clause. What Iser does not see or state clearly is that even "gaps" and "blanks" are a means of directing the reader.

The gap is, if at all, the illusion of freedom to fill something in.

According to Iser the reader of Tom Jones or Joseph Andrews is encouraged by the author-narrator to help constitute the meaning of the novel.

He sees Fielding's offer of co-operation at certain places in the novels which he calls "blanks" or "gaps." The reader is meant to fill the "Blanks" (Tom Jones II.i.76), Iser's main contention is that the novel does not explicitly state its meaning, but that it is the reader who constructs its meaning on the basis of these signs.

The ambiguity of the verb "possessed" is a special case of irony which allows Fielding to say and not say what he means.

The very readers who are stupid enough to swallow his bait, "Sagacity," and believe (like the ass in the fable) to know better than the real craftsman, are the ones to whom the satirical epithet "possessed" applies.

They give him the chance to enter into the proceedings in such a way that he can construct their meaning. His approval of Bridget Allworthy's strict [→page 139] observation of mourning as far as her garments are concerned points in the same direction.

First of all, Iser does not meet the tone of the passage, but falls, to put it bluntly, into the trap of Fielding's irony. We should not, therefore, put too much trust in the reader's "Sagacity" nor in his ability to contribute intelligent conjectures or to participate in the construction of meaning.

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