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The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771)

by Tobias Smollett

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1,3612210,635 (3.64)133
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 andpolitical scene.… (more)

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English (21)  Danish (1)  All languages (22)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
frustrated love, lost heirs and adventures in Scotland
  ritaer | Jul 9, 2021 |
There's nothing more endearing to me than a curmudgeonly old fart, and I developed a real soft spot for Smollett's tender-hearted, "risible" misanthrope, Matthew Bramble. I found parts of this epistolary novel a little dry, to be perfectly honest, but every time I was ready to give up entirely, Smollett slapped a lil scatological/slapstick humour, or a letter from Win. Jenkins (you'll see what I mean) to draw me back in. I'd read this book again. ( )
  Sonya_W | Feb 5, 2020 |
Of the three 18th-century novels I read in the last few years (the others were Tristram Shandy and Tom Jones) this one was by far the shortest and the funniest. In particular the misspellings of one of the characters, who is only semi-literate. ( )
  Stravaiger64 | Dec 9, 2019 |
This is an epistolary novel written in 1771, the year the author died. It was one of a number of 18th century novels which were travelogues with rambling plots and colourful characters in sometimes bizarre situations. For the most part, this worked for me, and much of this is very amusing, though it dragged in places. One or two of the letter writers' epistles were a bit hard to read due to their idiolect, though this often had an amusing effect. The author of each letter was only stated at the epistle's end, so at first I couldn't tell who it was until I got used to the pattern. Some of the amusement derived from the different letter writers' interpretations of the same events and places. The early part of the novel is set in Bath, which at this time was in the midst of its Georgian transformation into the beautiful and elegant city I love today. The principle letter writer, Matthew Bramble, is scathing about Bath: "The Circus is a pretty bauble, contrived for shew, and looks like Vespasian's amphitheatre turned outside in" and, referring to the then forthcoming Royal Crescent among other new builds, "What sort of a monster Bath will become in a few years, with these growing excrescences, may be easily conceived". His niece Lydia on the other hand considers Bath "an earthly paradise. The Squares, the Circus and the Parades, put you in mind of ...sumptuous places; and the new buildings....look like so many enchanted castles". The expedition of the title progresses east to London, then north, ending in Scotland. It is in Scotland that the author's love of the beautiful landscapes and descriptions of towns comes across as more profound and this section includes the appearance of a real life relative of Smollett. Ironically, Humphry Clinker is a very minor character who appears only about a quarter of the way in, and is an eccentric coachman and servant of Bramble, though his role eventually turns out to be more significant. The ending, after the travellers' much quicker return down south, is somewhat abrupt and involves a set of ridiculous coincidences so typical of 18th and 19th century novels. I'm glad I read this, and enjoyed it, though got bogged down in a few places especially in the first half. ( )
2 vote john257hopper | Sep 18, 2017 |
I wavered between 3½ and 4 stars for this -- it took me a while to get into the swing of Smollett's style. However, once I did I found this epistolary novel increasingly enjoyable. Even the mis-spellings of the servant Win Jenkins which annoyed me at first became a source of amusement by the end. ( )
3 vote leslie.98 | Dec 31, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (69 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tobias Smollettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Aitchison, SuzyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bickford-Smith, CaralieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bloom, HaroldAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, T.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ross, AngusEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Abergavenny, Aug. 4
Respected Sir,
I have received your esteemed favour of the 13th ultimo, whereby it appeareth, that you have perused those same Letters, the which were delivered unto you by my friend the Reverend Mr. Hugo Bhen; and I am pleased to find you think they may be printed with a good prospect of success; inasmuch as the objections you mention, I humbly conceive are such as may be redargued, if not entirely removed.
Before we had gone nine miles, my horse lost one of his shoes; so that I was obliged to stop at Barnet to have another, while the coach proceeded at an easy pace over the common. About a mile short of Hatfield, the postilions, stopping the carriage, gave notice to Clinker that there were two suspicious fellows a-horseback, at the end of a lane, who seemed waiting to attack the coach. Humphry forthwith apprised my uncle, declaring he would stand by him to the last drop of his blood; and unflinging his carbine, prepared for action. The ’squire had pistols in the pockets of the coach, and resolved to make use of them directly; but he was effectually prevented by his female companions, who flung themselves about his neck, and screamed in concert—At that instant, who should come up at a hand-gallop, but Martin, the highway-man, who, advancing to the coach, begged the ladies would compose themselves for a moment then, desiring Clinker to follow him to the charge, he pulled a pistol out of his bosom, and they rode up together to give battle to the rogues, who, having fired at a great distance, fled across the common.
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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 andpolitical scene.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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