Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Expedition of Humphry Clinker” as Want to Read:
The Expedition of Humphry Clinker
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

3.42  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,992 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
Offers a picture of eighteenth-century society. This story describes Squire Bramble's tour of the Britain of George III.
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 414 pages
Published May 30th 1967 by Penguin Group (first published 1771)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan SwiftCandide by VoltaireRobinson Crusoe by Daniel DefoeThe Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von GoetheLes Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre-Ambroise Choderlos d...
Best Books of the 18th Century
88th out of 193 books — 726 voters
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann ShafferThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen ChboskyBridget Jones's Diary by Helen FieldingDracula by Bram StokerGriffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock
Epistolary Fiction
213th out of 436 books — 531 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
18th-century epistolary novel by Salman Rushdie's favorite Quixote translator. It's witty, complex, and undoubtedly quite innovative for its time, and it serves as not only a very informative travelogue of Britain in the mid-late 1700s, but also as a portrait of the political and cultural landscape during this time frame. But gosh darn it, it just wasn't as funny as I was expecting it to be based on laudations I read calling it "one of the funniest novels of all time." It's certainly witty and c ...more
Sherwood Smith
Reading the 18th Century novel is very much like riding a rambunctious horse. Actually, bowling along in a carriage; 100 years later, Eliot and the great Victorian novelists who were living with the noisy, fast, smoke-gouting trains would write with nostalgia of the grace and quietude and elegance of carriage travel. But the 17th Century novel depicts it as it more likely was, with is heat, travel-sickness from the jolts, and frequent breakdowns and overturns in the terrible roads, with highwaym ...more
Aug 26, 2016 Alex rated it really liked it
"The pills are good for nothing," fumes the heroic hypochondriac Bramble in one of your better opening sentences, and we're off on a picaresque tour of all the cliches of the 1700s and 1800s. Featuring such greatest hits as:

- Ridiculous coincidences!
- People who turn out to be of higher birth than they seem!
- Casual anti-Semitism, racism, sexism and classism!
- Duels!
- Fainting!

Published in 1771, it was influential to writers of the 1800s and especially influential to Dickens, whose alter ego Dav
Derek Davis
Apr 22, 2012 Derek Davis rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful human spirit Smollett has. He exploits yet dearly loves the foibles of mankind and know how to make them both uproarious and genuinely reverential. The whole work is, in the end, a paean to friendship.

An 18th century epistolary novel, it presents a running series of letters, without further explication, that follows the travels of squire Matthew Bramble through much of England, into Scotland, and back toward his home in Wales. The letters are written by Bramble, his nephew Edwar
Aug 28, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing
I was not expecting to like this work, or any 18th Century Epistolary novel featuring a character with a funny name. I just imagined some goofy British person stealing chickens and being a wag and angering the constable and complaining about Bolingbroke and eating bangers and mash. And yet I ended up loving it. Its an interesting melange of "authors" getting together to describe an expedition that starts at the apparent healing waters of Bath, moves to Scotland, and ends in London. The more prop ...more
Mar 29, 2010 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dudes, I couldn't finish this book. It's interesting. So I was into it 3/4 of the way through. It was amusing and unique, though it had it's dry parts. I was liking it. And then one day I looked at it sitting there on my counter, battered in that way Penguin books tend to get, and I thought: "OH MY GOD IF I READ ANOTHER PAGE OF THAT BOOK I WILL KILL MYSELF I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING!"

I don't know what went wrong! Smollett's little cast of characters alternates narration, and they are varied with thei
Apr 22, 2008 Shelley rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature, classic
Michael and I discovered this one while mocking many of the choices in "1001 Books to Read Before You Die." It has a ridiculous title, so naturally he went upstairs to grab a copy. Instead of continuing the mocking, however, I skimmed and was intrigued, so I checked it out. While I don't think it's necessary to read this before you die, it was pretty funny and well worth my time.

Welsh family goes on holiday all around England and Scotland, writing letters the entire time. Whiny, bitchy, frustra
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

From BBC Radio 4 - Classical Serial:
Tobias Smollet's uproarious satire of 18th-century life, dramatised by Yvonne Antrobus.

Squire Bramble and family embark on their whistle-stop tour of Great Britain. They encounter adventure, mayhem and the enigmatic Humphry Clinker.
Oct 29, 2013 Neale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
"..he had reason to believe the stercoraceous flavour, condemned by prejudice as a stink, was, in fact, most agreeable to the organs of smelling; for, that every person who pretended to nauseate the smell of another's excretions, snuffed up his own with particular complacency; for the truth of which he appealed to all the ladies and gentlemen then present..."

What more need I say?
Dec 12, 2010 Mieneke rated it really liked it
Published in June 1771,The Expedition of Humphry Clinkerwas to be Tobias Smollett's last novel. The author died in September of the same year. Though Smollett is most remembered for his picaresque works, such as The Adventures of Roderick Random ,Humphry Clinkeris more of a travelogue than a picaresque. It is not the ending or the plot that is the story, but the scenery on the way. There isn't really a solid plot to the story; Bramble takes his niece, nephew and sister on a tour of the Isle afte ...more
Justin Evans
Jan 13, 2013 Justin Evans rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Given how briefly the best authors dedicated themselves to it, realism exerts far too much influence over our reading habits. Beware, when you pick up a Smollett, for here there is no character development, no tight plot, no interest--despite what the back of the book says--in faithfully depicting society.

Humphrey Clinker is, rather, a weird mash-up of Horace and Juvenal's satires, eighteenth century travel literature, and story collections like the Canterbury Tales. It's an epistolary somethin
A.L. Stumo
Aug 22, 2011 A.L. Stumo rated it it was amazing
How one book can break so many of the accepted conventions of writing and still be a good read is testimony to Mr. Smollett's genius. This book is epistolary and breaks the show don't tell rule in every scene, is told from several viewpoints (some scenes you piece together from retellings by the various narrators like Rashomon), has long rambling passages of philosophy (yet uses that for character development in a unique manner) and has no plot arc (instead having a plot maze).

Yet at the end of
Aug 16, 2013 jcg rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful rambling adventure. Told in an epistolary style, Smollett deftly captures the different voices of the characters – the letters of Winifred Jenkins are probably the funniest pages in the history of literature. The book is inventive and surprising – but it must be read with the context of the late 18th century in mind – to a modern reader it may appear wordy, poorly structured with sloppy plotting, full of opinions and sometimes preachy, but no worse than many other novels of t ...more
Mar 02, 2012 k.wing rated it it was ok
Review preface:
So... there's something to be said for how books translate over time. And how, at the time, such and such a book was immensely popular, witty, funny, broke all boundaries, etc.; but in the present, those items seem to be lost on the contemporary reader. But, that's not the fault of the writer, and as the reader, I feel that it is my fault, and I'm plenty ashamed of it, thank you very much. I should also note that I probably promised myself somewhere along the way that I wasn't goi
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Aug 22, 2012 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides marked it as paused  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Snail in Danger (Sid) by:
For those who might be wondering ... yes, the title character does eventually show up. Also, don't read the Wikipedia entry trying to find this out ... it's full of spoilers.
Dec 14, 2015 K. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meandered over this one, which I picked up in a fit of "I need something new to read, what's on my shelf?" I bought a few Smollett's several years ago and think I may have unsuccessfully tried either Peregrine Pickle or Roderick Random.

Some thoughts
-This is an epistolary novel. Done well enough to tell the story, although some characters practically quit writing letters at some point and we are left without their perspective. Also can't believe people would write 6 or 10 page letters every day
Rob Bliss
Apr 09, 2013 Rob Bliss rated it liked it
Ive been a fan of Richardson and Fielding, so I thought Id pick up their contemporary, Smollett.

This is kind of a travel book with a comedy backing. If you want to know what parts of England, Scotland and (I think they touch on Wales) were like in the 1700s, then here you go. You join a family as they travel. They have some wacky times, fall in and out of love, have an accident or two, etc. Read the back blurb.

The funny thing about this is that it's NOT about Humphrey Clinker. He is a servant of
Jan 08, 2014 Nathan rated it it was amazing
What an oddly wonderful read is Tobias Smollett’s 'The Expedition of Humphry Clinker.' I will admit that many times when I read literature this old, it is as much out of a sense of duty as enjoyment – if we are to be well-read, we must know the canon, after all. But there was much pleasure to be found in this inflected story of a family of convenience as they peregrinate around the United Kingdom on a series of unexpected adventures.

Published in 1771, in some ways 'Humphry Clinker' is very much
witch of Angmar
Oct 29, 2014 witch of Angmar rated it it was ok
There's no doubt this book is well-written, but it's predominantly boring (to me, at least). There are parts that can be exciting or interesting. I know that Smollett wrote the letters to be verbose and often full of menial complaints because it was part of his satire and the characters' personalities. I just wasn't particularly impressed by it. For an Introduction to Literature class that is SUPPOSED to count as a cultural diversity credit at my college... let's just say this is not the book yo ...more
Kevin Shannon
Jan 27, 2014 Kevin Shannon rated it really liked it
Considering this was written in the 18th century it is admirable in it's accessibility. It really reads well, although the plot and characterizations are somewhat rushed, lets give Smollett the benefit.., and of course the psychology and politics are of their day, it still is an interesting insight into life back then. Much easier than Fielding, Richardson, Defoe et al.
Jun 28, 2014 Rose rated it it was amazing
It took a little while to get the hang of reading this mid-18th century novel. It's written in the epistolary style with five distinctive voices writing letters to friends back home. Once into the story, it was a surprisingly entertaining travelogue of all the hot spots of Britain--Bath, London and Edinburgh with lots of stops along the way.

The story follows middle-aged Matthew Bramble and his entourage on a tour of Britain. The tour is supposedly to help Matthew recover his health, he suffers f
I read this for my Engl Lit II class and it was kind of random. The story didn't seem to have a well-defined plot and kept jumping all over the place. But it was a fairly interesting story because I was able to keep reading without forcing myself. The characters were vivid and their descriptions of each other was sometimes humorous. I probably wouldn't recommend this book though.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
Novel in letters recounting the travels of a family group through England and Scotland featuring the servant (and occasional Methodist lay preacher) they pick up on their way the eponymous Humphrey Clinker.

Apart from eighteenth-century humour the novel has an unusual celtic theme for example the surprise importance of Welsh inheritance law and in the slightly Don Quixote-like character of the Scottish Officer they pick up in Edinburgh.
Nov 08, 2014 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An epistolary novel in the 18th century style, though differing from Richardson et al. in that the correspondence is all one-sided; each member of a family party doing a grand tour of Britain is telling their own slightly variant version of the story to a correspondent whose replies are not really needed.

Unlike Smollett's earlier, more picaresque novels, there is an over-arching plot here, as a mysterious suitor must wait many months to reveal himself. The humor is generally baudier than a Vict
Geoff Wooldridge
Jul 24, 2016 Geoff Wooldridge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This curiously named epistolary novel of 1771 by Smollett follows the journey and adventures of Matthew Bramble, his sister Tabitha, nephew Jery and niece Lydia, along with Tabitha's maid, Wyn Jenkins.

Told completely in the form of letters written by these characters, it unfolds a journey of several months through the north of England and into Scotland, Smollett's birth place. During this journey they make the acquaintance of the zealously pious and eager Humphry Clinker, who becomes part of the
Jul 01, 2015 Rachel rated it liked it
I bought this book at a used bookstore a while back and it took me a while to get around to giving it a try. It's an epistolary novel and fairly amusing. Smollett even includes a long episode with himself as a character. Hilariously, the title character doesn't even show up until nearly halfway through the novel and is only mentioned sporadically after that. In truth, this is a sort of comedy of manners novel about a gentleman-farmer and his family as they spend 8 months or so traveling around t ...more
Apr 07, 2011 Brittany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inspired a love for the epistolary form for me - circulation of letters about the title character who never writes a letter himself. contrast of consumerism and modern pitted against the stubborn organic preferences of an old Englishman were particularly interesting to me.
Irreverent Georgian humor. I ran into a few instances of values dissonance, but that's to be expected when reading 18th century books. I still enjoyed it. It's mostly made up of humorous sketches tied together by a main story line. Not quite laugh-out-loud, but it made me grin.
Oct 31, 2012 Jordan rated it really liked it
Fantastic work, a prime travel narrative of the 18th century. Comical bucolic main letter writer Clinker reflects conservative views on urban development during the 18th century. Helpful text for understanding the growth of the city vs. the English country.
Monty Milne
May 24, 2015 Monty Milne rated it really liked it
If you only read one Smollett, this should be the one. It's funnier and more satisfying than Roderick Random or Peregrine Pickle, and the humour - though equally bawdy - has less of a cruel edge. Of course, the plot is absurd, but that's not really the point. The journey which the reader is taken on is as discursive and as entertaining as the carriage journey through the British Isles which the characters embark upon. There are even hints of pathos and a broader understanding beneath the rollick ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Man of Feeling
  • Amelia
  • Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus
  • Love in Excess
  • The Female Quixote: or, the Adventures of Arabella
  • A Tale of a Tub
  • Julie, or the New Heloise
  • Camilla
  • The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia
  • A Sentimental Journey
  • Roxana
  • The Unfortunate Traveller and Other Works
  • Caleb Williams
  • Ennui
  • Whisky Galore
  • The Unbearable Bassington
  • Augustus Carp, Esq. By Himself Being the Autobiography of a Really Good Man
  • White Man Falling
Tobias George Smollett was born in Dalquhurn, now part of Renton, Scotland, to a prosperous family and educated at the University of Glasgow, where he studied to be a physician. Later he joined the British Royal Navy as a surgeon's mate. He was present at the disastrous battle of Cartagena, in 1741, against the Spanish. He married a British woman Anne Lascelles, in Jamaica, 1747,and returned to En ...more
More about Tobias Smollett...

Share This Book

“The capital is become an overgrown monster; which like a dropsical head, will in time leave the body and extremities without nourishment and support.” 3 likes
“I find that the old Roman baths of this quarter, were found covered by an old burying ground, belonging to the Abbey; through which, in all probability, the water drains in its passage; so that as we drink the decoction of the living bodies at the Pump-room, we swallow the strainings of rotten bones and carcasses at the private bath - I vow to God, the very idea turns my stomach!” 3 likes
More quotes…