Tobias Smollett

Smollett, Tobias George

Tobias George Smollett (smŏl´Ĭt), 1721–71, Scottish novelist. After studying at Glasgow he came to London in 1739. Failing to get his tragedy The Regicide produced, he shipped as a surgeon's mate in the British navy the following year. In 1744 he returned to London with his wife, a Jamaican heiress, practiced as a surgeon for a time, and then began an active literary career. His first three novels, Roderick Random (1748), Peregrine Pickle (1751), and Ferdinand Count Fathom (1753), are tough, coarse, episodic adventure stories, exposing a crude and brutal society. In 1755, Smollett translated Cervantes's Don Quixote into English. His novel Sir Lancelot Greaves (1760–62), which is based on Don Quixote, is considered his weakest work. Smollett achieved his greatest success with Humphry Clinker (1771), a comical but sympathetic story of a family's adventures through England and Scotland written in the form of letters. These novels, rich in character, incident, and realistic detail, were drawn largely from Smollett's own wide experience. His influence on later novelists, most notably Dickens, has been great. In addition to writing he had an active publishing career, editing periodicals, translating, and compiling. His other works include a popular History of England (1757), an entertaining but splenetic Travels through France and Italy (1766), and a brutal satire on public affairs, The History and Adventures of an Atom (1769).

See his letters ed. by L. M. Knapp (1949, repr. 1970); biographies by L. M. Knapp (1949, repr. 1963), D. J. W. Bruce (Am. ed. 1965), George S. Rousseau (1982), and H. Bloom (1987); studies by R. Giddings (1968) and R. D. Spector (1968).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Tobias Smollett: The Critical Heritage
Lionel Kelly.
Routledge, 1995
The Adventures of Roderick Random
Tobias Smollett; Paul-Gabriel Boucé.
Oxford University Press, 1999
The Expedition of Humphry Clinker
Tobias Smollett; Lewis M. Knapp; Paul-Gabriel Boucé.
Oxford University, 1998
Representing Scotland in Roderick Random and Humphry Clinker: Smollett's Development as a Novelist
Lutz, Alfred.
Studies in the Novel, Vol. 33, No. 1, Spring 2001
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Smollett's Representation and Critique of the Traffic in Women: A Narrative Strand in Roderick Random
Nelson, T. G. A.
Philological Quarterly, Vol. 78, No. 3, Summer 1999
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Comic Maid-Servants in Swift and Smollett: The Proverbial Idiom of Humphry Clinker
Rogers, Pat.
Papers on Language & Literature, Vol. 39, No. 3, Summer 2003
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Smollett Studies
Claude E. Jones.
University of California Press, 1942
Smollett's Women: A Study in An Eighteenth-Century Masculine Sensibility
Robert D. Spector.
Greenwood Press, 1994
A Study in Smollett: Chiefly "Peregrine Pickle"
Howard Swazey Buck.
Yale Unviersity Press, 1925
Not in Timon's Manner: Feeling, Misanthropy, and Satire in Eighteenth-Century England
Thomas R. Preston.
University of Alabama, 1975
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Tobias Smollett - A Risible Misanthrope"
The Fame Machine: Book Reviewing and Eighteenth-Century Literary Careers
Frank Donoghue.
Stanford University, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "'It Is Better to Be Envied than Despised': Tobias Smollett"
The English Novel in History, 1700-1780
John Richetti.
Routledge, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Smollett: Resentment, Knowledge, and Action"
The Columbia History of the British Novel
John J. Richetti; John Bender; Deirdre David; Michael Seidel.
Columbia University Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "From Swift to Smollett: The Satirical Tradition in Prose Narrative" begins on p. 127
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