London: Printed for W. Johnston, 1753. Item #05594
Tobias Smollett's 'The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom'
"The First Novel by a Major English Writer that is Vevoted to a Thoroughgoing Portrait of Villainy"
[SMOLLETT, Tobias]. The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom By the Author of Roderick Random. In Two Volumes. London: Printed for W. Johnston, 1753.
First edition. Two twelvemo volumes (6 9/16 x 4 inches; 167 x 101 mm.). , viii, 1-262; , 1-315, [1, blank] pp. Bound without the final blank leaf in volume one.
Handsomely bound in early twentieth-century polished calf by Rivière & Son (stamp-signed on the verso of the front free endpaper). Covers ruled in blind, spines ruled in blind with five raised bands and two olive green morocco gilt lettering labels, all edges gilt, marbled endpapers. Date in gilt at foot of spine. A fine and very attractive example.
The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom is the "first novel by a major English writer that is devoted to a thoroughgoing portrait of villainy, The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom chronicles the life of an aberrant criminal character. Filled with striking satiric thrusts at the legal, medical, and military establishments of mid-eighteenth-century Europe and England, the novel reveals Tobias Smollett's capacities as a commentator on contemporary life. First published in 1753, Ferdinand Count Fathom is an experimental work that explores the relations between history and fiction and introduces, for the first time in the English novel, episodes of Gothic melodrama. Too long neglected and never before available in a carefully prepared scholarly edition, Ferdinand Count Fathom may now be read, understood, and appreciated against the literary and historical background of the eighteenth-century world." (Jerry C. Beasley. The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom).
Tobias Smollett (1721-1771), “English satirical novelist, best known for his picaresque novels. Smollett apprenticed as a surgeon, and throughout his life he combined the roles of medical man and writer…In 1748 Smollett published his novel Roderick Random, a graphic account of British naval life at the time, and he also translated from the French the great picaresque romance Gil Blas. Peregrine Pickle was published in 1751, and The Adventures of Ferdinand, Count Fathom…appeared in 1753…He translated Don Quixote from the Spanish (1755), and in 1756 he became editor of The Critical Review, a Tory and church paper, at the same time writing his four-volume Complete History of England (1757-58…In 1759 he was convicted for libel on Admiral Sir Charles Knowles in The Critical Review, fined, and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment in the King’s Bench Prison. He drew on his experiences there for his two-volume novel The Adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves (1762)…His finest work, Humphry Clinker (1771), recounts the adventures of a family traveling through Britain” (Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature).