The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

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The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

Read FREE!

Synopsis

Among eighteenth-century novelists Tobias George Smollett must be placed next to Richardson and Fielding. As compared with the works of these masters his are of inferior artistic rank; but through the clearness and vigor of their style, their racy humor, and their realistic depiction of incident and character they have exerted an equal if not a greater influence upon English fiction. He was born in Scotland in 1721; entered the navy as a surgeon in 1740, and was present at the siege of Cartagena; spent the greater part of his later life in London; and died near Leghorn in 1771.

" Humphry Clinker," Smollett's masterpiece, was written shortly before his death. In it the best qualities of his style and method are strikingly exhibited, and it is comparatively free from the vulgarity by which much of his other work is marred. Its reputation for humor was long almost unrivaled. "The most laughable story," Thackeray called it, "that was ever written since the goodly art of novel-writing began." Still more notable are its minuteness and fidelity as a description of contemporary life. The author's own character and his experiences as an invalid provided a realistic foundation for the whims and adventures of Matthew Bramble, while the pilgrimages of that worthy, in search of health, to Bath, Harrowgate, Scarborough, London, and the Highlands furnished an excellent opportunity to pass in review the men and manners of the time. This he did with great power and fidelity of observation. Like Fielding, he kept closely to the task of drawing life as he saw it, and, as has been well said, whoever does this does something rare and admirable. In "Humphry Clinker" also he was most successful as a creator of characters. Matthew Bramble, Tabitha, Winifred Jenkins, and Lismahago are worthy of any of the great masters of fiction. The book, accordingly, forms a most important scene in the "English Comédie Humaine."

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