33. Tobias Smollett - The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (1751)
This coming on the list so soon after Fielding's Tom Jones really does it a great disservice, it reads like a poor and somewhat mean spirited copy of that great work. I do not like Smollett as a person, he feels like a bit of a mean vindictive xenophobic little shit.
The fact that most of this book is set abroad lets Smollett exercise his foreigner-hating muscles, something which would later be taken up by Laurence Sterne in his Sentimental Journey where the character of Smellfungus is a thinly veiled allusion to Smollett.
So about two thirds into the book I quit. None of it was very interesting or funny, although it was desperately trying to be witty. At the moment I am reading another Smollett book, Humphry Clinker, which is much better, and actually quite funny, so I might have to revise my opinion when we get to that review.
5/10 (read only 2/3rds).
Smollett was born at Dalquhurn, now part of Renton, in present-day West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. He was the son of a judge and land-owner, and was educated at the University of Glasgow, qualifying as a surgeon. His career in medicine came second to his literary ambitions, and in 1739 he went to London to seek his fortune as a dramatist. Although unsuccessful, he obtained a commission as a naval surgeon on the HMS Chichester and travelled to Jamaica, where he settled down for several years. On his return, he set up practice in Downing Street and married a wealthy Jamaican heiress, Anne Lascelles, in 1747.
His first published work was a poem about the Battle of Culloden entitled "The Tears of Scotland", but it was The Adventures of Roderick Random which made his name. It was modelled on Le Sage's Gil Blas, and was published in 1748. Smollett followed it up by finally getting his tragedy, The Regicide, published, though it was never performed. In 1750, Smollett took his MD degree in Aberdeen, and also travelled to France, where he obtained material for his second novel, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, another big success.
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