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A Partridge in the Family Tree: Fixity, Mobility, and Community in TomJones Hilary Teynor The title page of Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling (1749) immediately alerts the reader to die protagonist 's dubious lineage: who are die foundling's father and motiier? Consider, for example, Tom's immediate familial and pseudo-familial connections: he has a biological fadier in die clergyman's son Summer and a mother in Bridget Allwordiy, an adoptive fadier in Squire Allworthy , an initially resistant father-in-law in Squire Western, and in loco parentis schoolmasters in Thwackum and Square. Benjamin Partridge andJennyJones count as putative parents of Tom Jones, widi Blifil as botii his half-brother and foster brotiier. SophiaWestern, on die odier hand, has substitute motiiers in her aunt Mrs Western and Lady Bellaston because ofher own modier's absence. Later in die novel, diematically important issues of paternity arise widi Nightingale , who is a son and a fadier-to-be, and his uncle, who acts as a quasi-father. The narrative also includes Tom and Partridge's response to a Hamletperformance, a play that turns on father-son and fraternal relationships. Such tangled relationships that expose die conflicts of heredity and contractual obligations are not merely curiosities of EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION, Volume 17, Number 3, April 2005 350 EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION novelistic design, but rather are key to understanding how die novel offers a critique ofexisting social structures. This article focuses on the relationship between Partridge and Tom in order to demonstrate how the category of "father" is figured dirough the analogical structure ofmaster and servant. To investigate this analogy, I posit Ferdinand Tönnies's categories of Gemeinschaft (community) and GeseUschafl (civil society) as forms ofassociation that illuminate the ways in which Fielding's society manifested coexisting features of die traditional and die modern. These terms, as I use diem in diis article, exist in three forms: 1) as ideal types for definitional purposes; 2) as repositories ofnorms to which people might appeal; and 3) as empirical labels useful for describing sociological formations within societies, which are always hybrids of the two categories.1 Gemeinschaft, widi its ties based on shared space, consanguinity, fellowfeeling , and custom, suggests a specific location, often rural, in which relationships work. Geselhchaft, on the odier hand, describes relationships based on reason and utility, and tends to appear in urban settings.2 Because these categories invite consideration of die play between the hereditary and die contractual, and questioning of die foundation of those very terms, they hold interpretive power for analysing Fielding's conceptions offamilial structures.3 1 For an elaboration of these categories, see Ferdinand Tönnies, Community and CivilSociety, ed. Jose Harris, trans. Jose Harris and Margaret Hollis (1887; reprint, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). For an appraisal of Tönnies's place in sociology, see Robert A. Nisbet, The Sociological Tradition (New York: Basic Books, 1966). According to Nisbet, "WhatTönnies thus does is to take communityfrom the status ofdependent variable that it had in die writings ofthe economists and classical individualists in general and give it independent, even causal status. This is the essence of Tönnies's typological use of community. It is an essence that extended itselfinto the works ofDurkheim, whose criticism ofTönnies and reversal ofterminologycannot conceal the cognate relation thatlies between his 'mechanical' and 'organic' types of solidarity and Tönnies's concepts. The same typological essence is to be seen in Simmel, for whom 'metropolis' becomes the encapsulating term of modernism" (78). Joan Aldous reproduces Durkheim's review of Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, along with Tönnies's response, in "An Exchange between Durkheim and Tönnies on die Nature of Social Relations, widi an Introduction byJoan Aldous," American Journal of Sociology 77:6 (May 1972), 1191-1200. See also Werner Cahnman, Weberand Toennies: ComparativeSociology in HistoricalPerspective (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1995). For a convenient digest ofWeber's far-reaching thought, see Max Weber: Sociological Writings, ed. WolfHeydebrand (NewYork: Continuum, 1994). 2 Tönnies insisted that these categories always coexisted in some measure. See "My Relationship to Sociology," in Ferdinand Toennies: On Sociology: Pure, Applied, andEmpirical Selected Writings, ed. Werner J. Cahnman and Rudolf Heberle...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-0243
Print ISSN
0840-6286
Pages
pp. 349-372
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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