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Tobias George Smollett



Tobias George Smollett (1721-1771), Scottish novelist, was born in Dalquhurn, Dumbarton County Scotland. Smollett was born beneath a plane tree at Dalquharn House on the family estate of Bon hill in the Vale of Leven, near the village of Renton, Dumbartonshire. At fourteen Smollett was apprenticed to a Glasgow doctor. He studied medicine at Glasgow University and moved to London in 1740. He was a ship's surgeon in the Carragena expedition against the Spanish in the West Indies, and lived in Jamaica until 1744 when he returned to London and renewed his earlier attempts to stage a play he had written The Regicide, but still met with no success. He also failed to set up his own medical practice. His first novel, the partly autobiographical Roderick Random (1748), was an immediate success. His best novel, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771), has become a classic. It is a story, told in a series of letters, about the travels of a family through England and Scotland. Smollett was troubled by lack of money. He spent his last years in poor health, and died in Livorno, Italy, on October 21, 1771. Two years later, Johnson and Boswell stayed at Cameron House with Smollett's cousin James, who was preparing to erect a Tuscan column in Smollett's memory at Renton.


Johnson helped compose the Latin obituary on the plinth, and the column stood in what subsequently became the playground of a school. Some of Tobias Smollett's work consists of The Tears of Scotland (1746). Poem on the defeat of the Scots at the Battle of Culloden. The Adventures of Roderick Random ( 1748 ). Gil Blas. Translation of LeSage's novel. ( 1749 ). The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle ( 1751 ). The Adventures of Ferdinand, Count Fathom ( 1753 ). Don Quixote. Translation of Cervantes' novel. ( 1755). The Adventures of Sir Lancelot Greaves ( 1760 ). Travels through France and Italy ( 1766 ). The History and Adventures of an Atom ( 1769 ). The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker ( 1771 ). Some critics regard Tobias Smollet as more satirist meaning that a work of literature or art that, by inspiring laughter, contempt, or horror, seeks to correct the follies and abuses it uncovers. I don't know what that means though. This is a paragraph from Tobias Smollett's book The Adventures of Roderick Random. Roderick Random is the orphaned, unwanted grandson of a severe old Scots magistrate, exposed by his grandfather’s known neglect to the malice of the community. His principal enemies are the schoolmaster and the young heir. It is not long before a deus ex machina appears in the form of a sailor uncle: He was a strongly built man, somewhat bandy-legged, with a neck like that of a bull, and a face which had withstood the most obstinate assaults of the weather.

His dress consisted of a soldier’s coat, altered for him by the ship’s tailor, a striped flannel jacket, a pair of red breeches japanned with pitch, clean grey worsted stockings, large silver buckles that covered theree-fourths of his shoues, a silver laced hat whosecrown overlooked the brim about an inch and a half, a black bob wig in buckle, a check shirt, a silk hankerchief, a henger with a brass handle girded on his thigh by a tarnished laced belt, and a good oak plant under his arm. I picked this paragraph because here Smollett is describing the hero of the story Roderick Random. I believe it is important to have a brief if not full description of characters, so that you can imagine seeing them maybe even being there, in your mind, while they are doing what is described in the book.

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