A Study in Smollett: Chiefly "Peregrine Pickle"

A Study in Smollett: Chiefly "Peregrine Pickle"

A Study in Smollett: Chiefly "Peregrine Pickle"

A Study in Smollett: Chiefly "Peregrine Pickle"

Excerpt

The following study is a dissertation presented for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Yale University. As the title should suggest, it is not intended to be an exhaustive investigation of Peregrine Pickle; rather, it is a study of a few important phases of Smollett's biography which centre in that novel. Thus many features which may be of interest and significance are not touched upon, or are merely glanced at, such as Smollett's quarrel with the "Physician," unquestionably Dr. Akenside. On the other hand, the much disputed authorship of the Memoirs of a Lady of Quality is examined with a fulness which would undoubtedly be disproportionate, were any less detailed method sufficiently conclusive. This has seemed a question of real biographic if not literary significance. Similarly, the first importance of the revision has been felt to be biographical rather than literary, involving primarily a change in our view of Smollett's relations with certain famous contemporaries. In the last chapter, where those relations are dealt with, the discussion is not confined to Peregrine Pickle. For all the quarrels involved are, in one way or another, derivative from the Regicide, the majority of them passing through Roderick Random to their culmination in Peregrine Pickle. Their history, both before and after Peregrine Pickle, has therefore been traced with a quite impartial fulness. Since these disputes, sadly enough, represent Smollett's chief contacts with his more famous contemporaries, it is hoped that their story, together with the resulting discovery of an unsuspected comedy by Smollett, may be found to modify the novelist's biography in important ways.

In the absence of any definitive edition of Smollett's works, all references in the following pages to his novels, unless otherwise noted, are to Henley's edition, as the best modern reprint. It enjoyed, in part at least, the benefit of Seccombe's scholarly supervision.

I wish to thank particularly Professor Edward S. Noyes, not only for helpful suggestions, but the most generous use, in MS., of his forthcoming edition of Smollett's Letters. Mr. GilbertMcCoy Troxell . . .

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