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The Adventures of Roderick Random. by Tobias Smollet, M.D. with Plates by T. Rowlandson. Volume 1 of 2
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The Adventures of Roderick Random. by Tobias Smollet, M.D. with Plates by T. Rowlandson. Volume 1 of 2

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  668 ratings  ·  35 reviews
The 18th century was a wealth of knowledge, exploration and rapidly growing technology and expanding record-keeping made possible by advances in the printing press. In its determination to preserve the century of revolution, Gale initiated a revolution of its own: digitization of epic proportions to preserve these invaluable works in the largest archive of its kind. Now fo ...more
Paperback, 276 pages
Published June 10th 2010 by Gale Ecco, Print Editions (first published 1748)
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Money Makes the World Go Round, and It Might Even Bring About Some Marriages

Oh, what ups and downs, what periods of joy, enthusiasm, high hopes, and then what vales of languishing interest, of gnarly monotony and wearying spirits! In case you may be wondering, I’m not yet talking of the life of Roderick Random himself, to which these oppositions may undoubtedly be applied as well, but of my reading experience of Tobias Smollett’s first novel, which nowadays goes by the title of The Adventures of
Justin Evans
Compared to Humphrey Clinker, RR is a bit lacking. Compared to all the world's other novels, though, it's great. As ever with the 18th century, you need to adjust your expectations: the characters are 'flat,' there's no psychologizing, the plot meanders with little internal purpose, and there's no politesse. On the other hand, there's a wonderful variety of people and voices, there are dozens of hilarious little narratives, and the little satires--particularly, here, the dancing naked philosophe ...more
Meghan Krogh
Oh, my god, you guys. This book was so. Fucking. Long. And almost nothing happened in it! Here’s a summary:
(view spoiler)
'Roderick Random' was Smollett's first novel, and it is his best. It is a brawling, picaresque romp, like Fielding crossed with Dickens: less polished than Fielding, much coarser than Dickens, but always great fun. It is a fascinating insight into the society of its day, and demonstrates Smollett's intimate knowledge of medicine and of the navy (and of being in debt). Roderick's experiences as a ship's surgeon are horrifying to read.

Roderick is portrayed as honest and true-hearted, which is true
[These notes were made in 1983:]. Although this novel had its delightful moments, I found it rather tedious to get through, the more so since I was under compulsion. The humour is on the whole rather coarse (yes, I know I sound terribly Victorian!) and the general outlook on life a bit grim, for all that poetic justice eventually descends and RR ends up with a pregnant wife. It is the book's attitude towards money which I find most disconcerting - it seems to just keep appearing and disappearing ...more
Feb 26, 2015 Lobstergirl rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Mohammed Emwazi
Shelves: dolphins, fiction, own

My favorite character was Rourk Oregan, who begins a duel with the words, "Fire away, honey."

Aside from Rourk, sheesh. A hell of a long novel, one of those books that scampers endlessly from episode to episode. The back of my edition says, "Along with Richardson, Fielding, and Defoe, Smollett was one of the major eighteenth-century originators of the novel. Rather than advancing the structure or dignity of the form, Smollett contributed a vivid and farcical invention." Emphasis mine.

Random, high
Genia Lukin
Roderick Random is definitely an 18th century novel, which means that it essentially has little to no plot, characters that are not going to develop very much, and so much rambling and meandering. Being an 18th century satire it will of course call everybody by completely unrevealing names such as Captain Oakum or Cammander Idiot (does not actually appear in the book).

If you've read Tom Jones, with his Master Thwackum and Master Square, you know more or less what to expect out of this one: lots
The eigthteenth century saw the birth of the modern novel, from the early (actually pre-eigthteenth century) works of Aphra Behn to the later works of Defoe, Swift, Richardson, Fielding, Goldsmith, Smollett and many others. The novel wouldn't become the leading form of literature until the onset of the Victorian Age, but to follow its development from its infancy to the more modern forms is fascinating.

Eighteenth century novels are an acquired taste. They have both a far more moralistic flavour
Dara Salley
This book was pretty unappealing. The narrative is tried-and-true. A young man sets out in the world to find his fortune. Countless unlucky coincidences, unreliable companions and incompetent superiors beset him. Hilarious hijinks ensue. There is nothing to object to in that.

My issue was with the author’s tone. Roderick Random witnesses horrible things. There is constant violence, rape, war and death. Yet the author maintains a tone of frivolous amusement throughout the novel. Death, pain and su
Ruthie Jones
I loved this book! The story doesn't flow very smoothly, but the humor (sarcasm and wit) makes this book very enjoyable and funny. The "autobiographical" parts are enlightening and interesting.
Smollett is the working-class Fielding. As such, his focus is not so much on form, as on displaying the perilous nature of existence - and such a theme will naturally not lend itself to continuities of form. As a result, the overall structure of Smollett's work is not of the highest artistic quality. However, it may be said that Smollett has an eye for detail, and a decidedly wicked sense of understatement, to a much superior degree than Fielding - Smollett's characters are always eating bread a ...more
Wayland Smith
Another classic I was encouraged to read that didn't really wow me. I guess it was around before so many things became cliche, but a lot of it kind of is just that. Also, the general tone is kind of blase for some really dark and disturbing stuff time to time. Wasn't great, wasn't horrible. Maybe this one just wasn't for me.
Margaux Quinn

The language being exalted it can come off as a bit dense. However if you have the patience to complete this narrative (starting crucially with the important preface) your profit will more than reconcile the time invested.
Roderick Random is a picaresque, sometimes bawdy novel, but not in a league with Tom Jones or Tristram Shandy. Although the book is in large parts quite witty and interesting, it includes way too many improbabilities and has some superfluous and repetitive passages; although it features two gay characters, they are presented in quite a negative light, revealing Smollett's own homophobia. For readers interested in 18th century literature, I would rather recommend Tristram Shandy or Fanny Hill, if ...more
Neil McKinlay
The Adventures of Roderick Random is a great read! Written in the mid-1700s by a man from the same town in Scotland in which I grew up (Vale of Leven). Smollett has a beautifully descriptive and poetic turn of phrase, is witty, and has an acute eye for human foibles and our fallen disposition. This is Stevenson's Treasure Island and Scott's Rob Roy rolled into one! This novel is surprisingly modern, not in language (which nevertheless is exquisite), but in its vivid description of human nature w ...more
Lukas Evan
Dial "P" for picaresque.
Surprisingly, I liked this better than _Tom Jones_. Fielding is of more critical interest, but he's preachy ever other chapter. Smollet's picaresque is a masculinist lark. Don't count on this to be didactic--Roderick calls himself, a ship surgeon, a slave to the slaves who are about to be sold. He encounters his fair share of debauches. Unlike a lot of 18th century novels I've read for candidacy, though, this one is actually a fairly fun page turner.
Robert Stewart
There are humorous moments in this, but it's nothing like The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, or even other picaresque novels I've read.

For me, reading 18th century writing requires some extra effort and I need a constant stream of gratification to make it worthwhile.
This is an excellent example of the picaresque novel. The "hero" goes through many, many trials and tribulations, not always making the best decisions, always going broke, meeting sundry nefarious characters along the way. I lost track of the times Roderick Random was duped and robbed by numerous people. I just couldn't believe that anyone could be that stupid. But I enjoyed the tale immensely.
Had this book featured a different protagonist in similar situations, I think I could have enjoyed the story, but I found the titular character to be so unlikeable in his habit of sponging money off of the one person who (inexplicably) held him in high esteem that I just couldn't wait to be done with it.
Petty, bad-tempered predecessor to Dickens' Copperfield, Roderick is crude, self-serving, vengeful and bawdy. This archetype of the rambling, picaresque novel is, as John Barth writes in the amusing afterword to my Signet Classics edition, well worth reading, once only, and don't look for anything like symbolism or structure.
Philip Lane
Very wide-ranging set of adventures are encountered by Roderick including being at sea and in the army. He also pursues his fortunes by trying to catch himself a rich wife. He is also sexually molested by a wrinkled old woman and propositioned by a man (first time I have come across that in an 18th century novel!)
Another in the 1001 series of books to read before you perish. This reminded me of Fielding's Joseph Andrews, with less humor. Smollet still delivers a lively tale to the brim of rough humor and violence. Overall an entertaining account with pirates, sea warfare, debauchery, and a somewhat fairytale ending.
Dan Claffey
I thought the stories of his romp were engaging and interesting, although somewhat predictable. There were many instances of crude humor which I definitely appreciated, but all in all didn't love any of the characters is particular on their own.
Robert Wright
This is really a 3.5 star read for me. It is certainly plenty of fun if you like rollicking picaresque novels. It makes great bedtime reading since there aren't subtle sub-textual things happening, or if they are, they don't affect the fun.
Reread after 25-odd years, and just as lively, scathing, sentimental, violent and all-around human as I remembered it. Rock & roll melodrama from start to finish.
Fun story. Needs to be read again because I was so wrapped up in the story it was difficult to appreciate the humor. Written in 1748. His first novel.
It becomes tedious and repetitive at times. There are a many characters who become confusing because of the fact that they are all similar "types."
Leah T
It had its high points and I liked the ending, but would not have chosen this for myself were it not assigned reading for a class.
Long, very detailed, and boring to me. I can't relate to the life of an English (okay, technically Scottish) gentleman in the 1500/1600s.
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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 England. In London, as a writer, ...more
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