Das ist die Fortsetzung meines letzten Eintrags zu Tom Jones. Ich sammle hier vor allem Textstellen, die ich mir merken möchte.
Partridge, ein in mancherlei Hinsicht etwas naives Schulmeisterlein, besucht mit den anderen Charakteren eine Aufführung von Hamlet. Der Geist von Hamlets Vater erschreckt ihn furchtbar, die berühmte Totengräberszene dagegen nötigt ihm wenig Respekt ab: Partridge war im Lauf seiner wechselhaften Karriere auch Kirchendiener, hat Erfahrung mit der Totengräberei und moniert sofort, dass dieser Totengräber auf der Bühne da keine Ahnung vom Umgang mit einem Spaten hat.
The grave-digging scene next engaged the attention of Partridge, who expressed much surprise at the number of skulls thrown upon the stage. To which Jones answered, “That it was one of the most famous burial-places about town.” “No wonder then,” cries Partridge, “that the place is haunted. But I never saw in my life a worse grave-digger. I had a sexton, when I was clerk, that should have dug three graves while he is digging one. The fellow handles a spade as if it was the first time he had ever had one in his hand. Ay, ay, you may sing. You had rather sing than work, I believe.” (Book XVI, Chapter 5)
Den Schauspieler, der Hamlet gespielt hat, hält er nicht für besonders gut, weil er (Partridge) sich schließlich ganz genauso verhalten hätte, wenn er einen Geist gesehen hätte und so weiter. Der König dagegen, das sei ein rechter Schauspieler, spricht sehr deutlich und viel lauter als all die anderen:
Little more worth remembering occurred during the play, at the end of which Jones asked him, “Which of the players he had liked best?” To this he answered, with some appearance of indignation at the question, “The king, without doubt.” “Indeed, Mr Partridge,” says Mrs Miller, “you are not of the same opinion with the town; for they are all agreed, that Hamlet is acted by the best player who ever was on the stage.” “He the best player!” cries Partridge, with a contemptuous sneer, “why, I could act as well as he myself. I am sure, if I had seen a ghost, I should have looked in the very same manner, and done just as he did. And then, to be sure, in that scene, as you called it, between him and his mother, where you told me he acted so fine, why, Lord help me, any man, that is, any good man, that had such a mother, would have done exactly the same. I know you are only joking with me; but indeed, madam, though I was never at a play in London, yet I have seen acting before in the country; and the king for my money; he speaks all his words distinctly, half as loud again as the other. – Anybody may see he is an actor.” (Book XVI, Chapter 5)
Hier rechtfertigt sich der Erzähler dafür, dass er in seiner history bestimmte Dinge weglässt: Zu groß die Versuchung für den Leser, die Stellen einfach zu überspringen.
We would bestow some pains here in minutely describing all the mad pranks which Jones played on this occasion, could we be well assured that the reader would take the same pains in perusing them; but as we are apprehensive that, after all the labour which we should employ in painting this scene, the said reader would be very apt to skip it entirely over, we have saved ourselves that trouble. To say the truth, we have, from this reason alone, often done great violence to the luxuriance of our genius, and have left many excellent descriptions out of our work, which would otherwise have been in it. And this suspicion, to be honest, arises, as is generally the case, from our own wicked heart; for we have, ourselves, been very often most horridly given to jumping, as we have run through the pages of voluminous historians. (Book XII, Chapter III)
Auch in England gab es anscheinend die Diskussion um den Hanswurst (Wikipedia), die unsere Schüler vielleicht kennen aus Lessings 17. Literaturbrief, in dem Lessing klagt: “[Gottsched] ließ den Harlekin feierlich vom Theater vertreiben, welches selbst die größte Harlekinade war, die jemals gespielt worden”. Ein Marionettentheater kommt in den Gasthof, in dem Tom Jones übernachtet, und Tom schaut sich die Aufführung an. Das landfeine Publikum lobt, dass nichts Anstößiges, Derbes, Zweifelhaftes, ja auch nur Komisches mehr im Stück verblieben ist, während Tom dem Punch, dem englischen Hanswurst nachtrauert.
Before our travellers had finished their dinner, night came on, and as the moon was now past the full, it was extremely dark. Partridge therefore prevailed on Jones to stay and see the puppet-show, which was just going to begin, and to which they were very eagerly invited by the master of the said show, who declared that his figures were the finest which the world had ever produced, and that they had given great satisfaction to all the quality in every town in England.
The puppet-show was performed with great regularity and decency. It was called the fine and serious part of the Provoked Husband; and it was indeed a very grave and solemn entertainment, without any low wit or humour, or jests; or, to do it no more than justice, without anything which could provoke a laugh. The audience were all highly pleased. A grave matron told the master she would bring her two daughters the next night, as he did not show any stuff; and an attorney’s clerk and an exciseman both declared, that the characters of Lord and Lady Townley were well preserved, and highly in nature. Partridge likewise concurred with this opinion.
The master was so highly elated with these encomiums, that he could not refrain from adding some more of his own. He said, “The present age was not improved in anything so much as in their puppet-shows; which, by throwing out Punch and his wife Joan, and such idle trumpery, were at last brought to be a rational entertainment. I remember,” said he, “when I first took to the business, there was a great deal of low stuff that did very well to make folks laugh; but was never calculated to improve the morals of young people, which certainly ought to be principally aimed at in every puppet-show: for why may not good and instructive lessons be conveyed this way, as well as any other? My figures are as big as the life, and they represent the life in every particular; and I question not but people rise from my little drama as much improved as they do from the great.” “I would by no means degrade the ingenuity of your profession,” answered Jones, “but I should have been glad to have seen my old acquaintance master Punch, for all that; and so far from improving, I think, by leaving out him and his merry wife Joan, you have spoiled your puppet-show.”
The dancer of wires conceived an immediate and high contempt for Jones, from these words. And with much disdain in his countenance, he replied, “Very probably, sir, that may be your opinion; but I have the satisfaction to know the best judges differ from you, and it is impossible to please every taste. I confess, indeed, some of the quality at Bath, two or three years ago, wanted mightily to bring Punch again upon the stage. I believe I lost some money for not agreeing to it; but let others do as they will; a little matter shall never bribe me to degrade my own profession, nor will I ever willingly consent to the spoiling the decency and regularity of my stage, by introducing any such low stuff upon it.”
“Right, friend,” cries the clerk, “you are very right. Always avoid what is low. There are several of my acquaintance in London, who are resolved to drive everything which is low from the stage.” “Nothing can be more proper,” cries the exciseman, pulling his pipe from his mouth. “I remember,” added he, “(for I then lived with my lord) I was in the footman’s gallery, the night when this play of the Provoked Husband was acted first. There was a great deal of low stuff in it about a country gentleman come up to town to stand for parliament-man; and there they brought a parcel of his servants upon the stage, his coachman I remember particularly; but the gentlemen in our gallery could not bear anything so low, and they damned it. I observe, friend, you have left all that matter out, and you are to be commended for it.”
“Nay, gentlemen,” cries Jones, “I can never maintain my opinion against so many; indeed, if the generality of his audience dislike him, the learned gentleman who conducts the show might have done very right in dismissing Punch from his service.” (Book XII, Chapter V)
Mitunter schön elaboriert sind Fieldings Bilder. Im folgenden geht es um Bridget, Squire Allworthys Schwester. Kenntnisse in antiker Mythologie sind dabei hilfreich, die “Schwestern” sind die Erinnyen:
At these words Mrs Bridget discomposed her features with a smile (a thing very unusual to her). Not that I would have my reader imagine, that this was one of those wanton smiles which Homer would have you conceive came from Venus, when he calls her the laughter-loving goddess; nor was it one of those smiles which Lady Seraphina shoots from the stage-box, and which Venus would quit her immortality to be able to equal. No, this was rather one of those smiles which might be supposed to have come from the dimpled cheeks of the august Tisiphone, or from one of the misses, her sisters. (Book I, Chapter VIII)
Und hier ein Absatz aus einem längeren Angriff an Kritiker, die sich in niederer Absicht an unschuldigen Werken vergreifen. Bücher werden dabei als Kinder der Autoren gesehen. Mir gefällt vor allem die Verklausulierung des ersten Satzes:
The reader who hath suffered his muse to continue hitherto in a virgin state can have but a very inadequate idea of this kind of paternal fondness. To such we may parody the tender exclamation of Macduff, “Alas! Thou hast written no book.” But the author whose muse hath brought forth will feel the pathetic strain, perhaps will accompany me with tears (especially if his darling be already no more), while I mention the uneasiness with which the big muse bears about her burden, the painful labour with which she produces it, and, lastly, the care, the fondness, with which the tender father nourishes his favourite, till it be brought to maturity, and produced into the world. (Book XI, Chapter I)
Und hier ein langes, ausgeführtes Bild um “the artillery of love”. Mrs Waters versucht unseren Helden Tom Jones zu verführen. Fielding beschreibt das, unter Musenanruf, in den Vokabeln einer Feldschlacht. Vor den “pointed ogles” schützt Tom Jones das Stück Fleisch, das er gerade verschlingt, vor den “deadly sighs” das Glucksen aus der Bierflasche, aber über kurz oder lang erliegt Tom dem “volley of small charms” und es, äh, kommt, wie es kommen muss.
In short, all the graces which young ladies and young gentlemen too learn from others, and the many improvements which, by the help of a looking-glass, they add of their own, are in reality those very spicula et faces amoris so often mentioned by Ovid; or, as they are sometimes called in our own language, the whole artillery of love.
Now Mrs Waters and our hero had no sooner sat down together than the former began to play this artillery upon the latter. But here, as we are about to attempt a description hitherto unassayed either in prose or verse, we think proper to invoke the assistance of certain aërial beings, who will, we doubt not, come kindly to our aid on this occasion.
“Say then, ye Graces! you that inhabit the heavenly mansions of Seraphina’s countenance; for you are truly divine, are always in her presence, and well know all the arts of charming; say, what were the weapons now used to captivate the heart of Mr Jones.”
“First, from two lovely blue eyes, whose bright orbs flashed lightning at their discharge, flew forth two pointed ogles; but, happily for our hero, hit only a vast piece of beef which he was then conveying into his plate, and harmless spent their force. The fair warrior perceived their miscarriage, and immediately from her fair bosom drew forth a deadly sigh. A sigh which none could have heard unmoved, and which was sufficient at once to have swept off a dozen beaus; so soft, so sweet, so tender, that the insinuating air must have found its subtle way to the heart of our hero, had it not luckily been driven from his ears by the coarse bubbling of some bottled ale, which at that time he was pouring forth. Many other weapons did she assay; but the god of eating (if there be any such deity, for I do not confidently assert it) preserved his votary; or perhaps it may not be dignus vindice nodus, and the present security of Jones may be accounted for by natural means; for as love frequently preserves from the attacks of hunger, so may hunger possibly, in some cases, defend us against love.
The fair one, enraged at her frequent disappointments, determined on a short cessation of arms. Which interval she employed in making ready every engine of amorous warfare for the renewing of the attack when dinner should be over.
No sooner then was the cloth removed than she again began her operations. First, having planted her right eye sidewise against Mr Jones, she shot from its corner a most penetrating glance; which, though great part of its force was spent before it reached our hero, did not vent itself absolutely without effect. This the fair one perceiving, hastily withdrew her eyes, and levelled them downwards, as if she was concerned for what she had done; though by this means she designed only to draw him from his guard, and indeed to open his eyes, through which she intended to surprise his heart. And now, gently lifting up those two bright orbs which had already begun to make an impression on poor Jones, she discharged a volley of small charms at once from her whole countenance in a smile. Not a smile of mirth, nor of joy; but a smile of affection, which most ladies have always ready at their command, and which serves them to show at once their good-humour, their pretty dimples, and their white teeth.
This smile our hero received full in his eyes, and was immediately staggered with its force. He then began to see the designs of the enemy, and indeed to feel their success. A parley now was set on foot between the parties; during which the artful fair so slily and imperceptibly carried on her attack, that she had almost subdued the heart of our hero before she again repaired to acts of hostility. To confess the truth, I am afraid Mr Jones maintained a kind of Dutch defence, and treacherously delivered up the garrison, without duly weighing his allegiance to the fair Sophia. In short, no sooner had the amorous parley ended and the lady had unmasked the royal battery, by carelessly letting her handkerchief drop from her neck, than the heart of Mr Jones was entirely taken, and the fair conqueror enjoyed the usual fruits of her victory.” (Book IX, Chapter V)
Tom Jones verschließt, anders als der Werther, seine Augen nicht vor der Physikalität des menschlichen Lebens. Dezent wird angedeutet, dass es so etwas wie Pornographie gibt:
The difficulty therefore which he [Mr Square, a philosopher] apprehended there might be in corrupting this young wench, and the danger which would accrue to his character on the discovery, were such strong dissuasives, that it is probable he at first intended to have contented himself with the pleasing ideas which the sight of beauty furnishes us with. These the gravest men, after a full meal of serious meditation, often allow themselves by way of dessert: for which purpose, certain books and pictures find their way into the most private recesses of their study, and a certain liquorish part of natural philosophy is often the principal subject of their conversation. (Book V, Chapter V)
So wählerisch wie Werther sind die Männer im Buch auch nicht:
But when the philosopher heard, a day or two afterwards, that the fortress of virtue had already been subdued, he began to give a larger scope to his desires. His appetite was not of that squeamish kind which cannot feed on a dainty because another hath tasted it. In short, he liked the girl the better for the want of that chastity, which, if she had possessed it, must have been a bar to his pleasures; he pursued and obtained her. (Book V, Chapter V)
Und geflucht wird auch viel. Während in Deutschland das “Götz-Zitat” in all seiner Harmlosigkeit geradezu sprichwörtlich geworden ist, wird hier munter übers Arschlecken theoretisiert, ohne dass daraus ein Skandal entstanden wäre:
He then bespattered the youth with abundance of that language which passes between country gentlemen who embrace opposite sides of the question; with frequent applications to him to salute that part which is generally introduced into all controversies that arise among the lower orders of the English gentry at horse-races, cock-matches, and other public places. Allusions to this part are likewise often made for the sake of the jest. And here, I believe, the wit is generally misunderstood. In reality, it lies in desiring another to kiss your a– for having just before threatened to kick his; for I have observed very accurately, that no one ever desires you to kick that which belongs to himself, nor offers to kiss this part in another. (Book VI, Chapter IX)
Eigentlich unwichtig, ich wollte nur im Kopf behalten, dass hier schon die aus Krimis gut bekannte, wenn auch inhaltlich falsche Behauptung erscheint, Eheleute dürften nicht gegeneinander aussagen:
Here, reader, I beg your patience a moment, while I make a just compliment to the great wisdom and sagacity of our law, which refuses to admit the evidence of a wife for or against her husband.
(Es folgt noch der letzte Teil zu Tom Jones, in dem ich nur ein bisschen was über den Tonfall des mock heroic schreibe.)