The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker


William Thackeray called it "the most laughable story that has ever been written since the goodly art of novel-writing began." As a group of travellers visit places in England and Scotland, they provide through satire and wit a vivid and detailed picture of the contemporary social and political scene.


The Expedition of Humphry Clinker is Smollett's final and best novel, long distinguished as being among the finest pieces of eighteenth-century fiction, and often regarded as the most successful epistolary novel in English.

Readers of this book will enjoy lively family letters, posted to various persons in England and Wales. Many are written to his doctor by a gouty country squire, Matthew Bramble; others by his husband-hunting sister, Tabitha, or by his youthful and sentimental niece, Lydia, or by her brother Jery, a student at Oxford. a few are composed by an illiterate but racy lady's-maid, Winifred Jenkins. They all gossip about each other, and they describe their own travelling adventures, and also those of a unique servant picked up en route, one Humphry Clinker, as well as those of a grotesque Scottish retired military officer called Lismahago. Very engrossing are these travellers' individual reactions to their tour through sections of England and Scotland. Their epistles include comments on social life, and memorable descriptions of well- known centres both urban and rural.

Viewing this extensive social panorama, one is carried back two centuries into the England and Scotland of about 1750-70. These two decades, like those preceding and following them, were far from peaceful, orderly, rational, or complacent. They were, in fact, turbulent, complex, and pregnant with momentous changes, the results of great advances in the sciences, and in exploration, commerce, and industry. Other changes, of course, were being effected in religion, philosophy, and all the arts. the novel (or the romance, as it was then called) had recently been born and was now growing up.

During these same decades of change and tension Tobias Smollett played his role, having left his native Scotland in 1739 to seek his fortune in London. He served in the navy and engaged in medical practice. He travelled in the Low Countries, and in France and Italy. His first two novels, Roderick Random and Peregrine Pickle, were published in 1748 and in 1751, and after many failures to stage his tragedy, The Regicide, he finally saw the . . .

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