Sunday, June 15, 2014



An anonymous "distinguished eighteenth-century scholar," quoted by G.S. Rousseau in "Beef and Bouillon: Smollett's Achievement as a Thinker," Tobias Smollett: Essays of Two Decades (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1982), pp. 80-123 (at 89):
I cannot read Smollett anymore. I have heard about the making of a definitive text of his work and I can't see how it makes any difference considering the depravity of his rotted mind. After reading these novels I wander through the titles of the chapters of his books and see nothing but revenge, revenge, revenge. For no reason at all people are hurt and humiliated, even skinned; even those who help him to perpetrate the fun. Jokes about hunchbacked people and lame matrons. Pissing for no reason at all (I would prefer the honest crudity of The English Rogue). Can you really call him a novelist of amusement? Can you honestly say there is one moment of pleasure in the whole of Smollett?
Yes, I can.

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