by Henry Fielding
Foreword by Peter Ackroyd
Based on the career and crimes of a real-life eighteenth-century gangland criminal, Jonathan Wild the Great is a black comedy of manners and morals.
Jonathan Wild is truly ‘great’: spurning the callow and spiritless ways of ‘lower’ men, he treads his own path to fame and glory – by way of theft, fraud and betrayal. Under the guidance of Mr Snap, a sheriff’s officer and receiver of stolen goods, Wild becomes an expert pickpocket and organises a gang of thieves, whose stolen goods he receives and re-sells at great profit for himself. His crimes are played out against a backdrop of colourful characters such as the whore Miss Molly Straddle, the cardsharp Count La Ruse, and the ‘base’ and ‘weak’ Mr Thomas Heartfree. Wild’s passage from cradle to gallows is told with a humour that belies the subtlety of the novel’s ironic themes, and the vigour and sparkle characteristic of Fielding’s best works.
Publication date: 01/05/2004