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The Expedition of Humphry Clinker
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The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  1,277 ratings  ·  85 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)
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Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan SwiftRobinson Crusoe by Daniel DefoeCandide by VoltaireThe Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von GoetheSongs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake
Best Books of the 18th Century
84th out of 133 books — 413 voters
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan SwiftEvelina by Fanny BurneyRobinson Crusoe by Daniel DefoeMoll Flanders by Daniel DefoeJoseph Andrews by Henry Fielding
Eighteenth Century List
38th out of 76 books — 20 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rod
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
Derek Davis
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...more
Andrew
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
Laura
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.
Shelley
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...more
Neale
"..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?
Mieneke
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 after...more
Justin Evans
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...more
A.L. Stumo
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...more
jcg
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
Scott
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...more
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: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=205237235587408630945.0004a687492f9b13f43c9&ie=UTF8&source=embed&vpsrc=6&ll=55.950065,-3.170414&spn=0.023068,0.041113&z=14
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.
Rob Bliss
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...more
Nathan
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...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.

Matthew Bramble, his spinster sister...more
k.wing
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...more
Kevin Shannon
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.
Rose
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...more
Snorkle
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: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.com/2010...
Jan-Maat
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.
Brittany
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.
SixBeforeLunch
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.
Jordan
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.
Christine
BBC Classic Serial 29.09.2014

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.

Mathew Bramble ...... Nigel Anthony
Tabitha Bramble ...... Marcia Warren
Lydia Melford ...... Helen Longworth
Jery Melford ...... Dan Starkey
Winifred Jenkins ...... Joanna Page
Humphry Clinker ...... Stuart McLoughlin
Sir Ulic Mackilligut .....
...more
Kevin Varney
This is not exactly what I was expecting. It's an 18th century epistolary novel, i.e. the story is told via a series of letters. Squire Bramble tours around the country with his entourage, including a footman they pick up along the way, called Humphry Clinker. For entertainment value, I think I would only give it two stars, maybe only one. Much of it is just not very funny. However, from a historical point of view, it is rather interesting. There are contemporary descriptions of the state of the...more
Lifebreakingin
Humorous but confusing without the historical context. Conversely, it me finally sort out the different British factions of the time.
emily
this may be the world's most boring book.
Catherine
Humphry Clinker is more of a series of vignettes and scenes than what we typically consider a novel; the plot of travelling through different spa towns and the eventual ridiculous marriage plot are primarily vehicles for Smollett to expound upon matters regarding health and medicine (the descriptions of the spa water, bleh!), nationalist feelings in England, Scotland, and Wales, and the general slow downfall of British society as it gives in to luxury. It can feel like a bit of a chore to read b...more
Fiona
Recently since joining my library’s book club I’ve been pottering around the shelves picking up books at random and taking them home with me. This was one of those random books – I’ve been wanting to read more 18th Century classics and I hadn’t heard of Tobias Smollett before.

Smollett is a Scottish author who first trained as a doctor and worked as a ship’s surgeon before giving up that career to become an author. Where Henry Fielding’s books contain references to the law and justice, Smollett’s...more
Lauren
An epistolary novel published in 1771 that borrows heavily from travelogues and picaresque and sentimental novels, this book made me realize how very much my attention span differs from a reader in the 1770s. Pages upon pages of description pass without a single mention of plot. I was, I will admit, bored almost to tears in places. And the plot, when given attention, is sort of like a diet, low-fat cookie: decent but not quite enough. A squire, his spinster sister (a hilarious character in that...more
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Born in Dalquhurn,now part of Renton, Scotland, to a prosperous family and educated at the University of Glascow, 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 England. In London, as a writer,...more
More about Tobias Smollett...
The Adventures of Roderick Random The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle Travels Through France and Italy The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom The Expedition of Humphry Clinker. by the Author of Roderick Random. Volume 1 of 2

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“The capital is become an overgrown monster; which like a dropsical head, will in time leave the body and extremities without nourishment and support.” 2 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!” 2 likes
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