London: Printed for W. Johnston, and B. Collins, 1771. Item #05596
First Edition of 'The Expedition of Humphry Clinker'
The Last of the Picaresque Novels of Tobias Smollett
[SMOLLETT, Tobias]. The Expedition of Humphry Clinker. By the Author of Roderick Random. In Three Volumes. London: Printed for W. Johnston, and B. Collins, 1671 [i.e., 1771].
First edition. Three twelvemo volumes (6 7/8 x 4 inches; 174 x 101 mm.). xv, [i, blank], 1-250; [iv], 1-249, [1, blank]; [iv], 1-275, [1, blank] pp. Complete with all three half-titles.
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 Expedition of Humphry Clinker was the last of the picaresque novels of Tobias Smollett, published in London on 17 June 1771 (three months before Smollett's death), and is considered by many to be his best and funniest work. It is an epistolary novel, presented in the form of letters written by six characters: Matthew Bramble, a Welsh Squire; his sister Tabitha; their niece Lydia and nephew Jeremy Melford; Tabitha's maid Winifred Jenkins; and Lydia's suitor Wilson. Much of the comedy arises from differences in the descriptions of the same events and places seen by the participants. Attributions of motives and descriptions of behaviour show wild variation and reveal much about the character of the teller. The setting, amidst the high-society spa towns, inns, and seaside resorts of the 18th century, provides his characters with many opportunities for satirical observations on English and Scottish life, manners, and politics. Smollett relies heavily on a scatological humour and references to the body. The net effect re-creates the messiness of eighteenth-century British novels that relied on the epistolary form. The author's travels in Scotland, France, and Italy influenced his novel. (Wikipedia).
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).