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The Adventures Of Roderick Random (Oxford World's Classics)

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  864 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Roderick is combative, often violent, but capable of great affection and generosity. His father had been disinherited and has left Scotland leaving his son penniless. After a brief apprenticeship to a surgeon, the innocent Roderick travels to London where he encounters various rogues.
Published December 5th 2002 by Oxford University Press (first published 1748)
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Richard Titus No gratuitous sex or violence, if that's what you mean. I've seen much more offensive things on network tv, if that gives you any indication.

There is…more
No gratuitous sex or violence, if that's what you mean. I've seen much more offensive things on network tv, if that gives you any indication.

There is cursing and expletives, probably outrageous in its time period, but quite tame but today's standards.(less)

Community Reviews

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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
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Oct 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
'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
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Mohammed Emwazi
Shelves: own, dolphins, fiction

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
Jul 24, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Genia Lukin
Dec 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, satire
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
Sep 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
Having read Peregrine Pickle, the novel Smollett wrote after this one, three years ago, I kind of realised that, like with Henderson and Herzog, I'd read these the wrong way around. Smollett made his name with Roderick Random and then went on to perfect his style with Peregrine in much the same way that Bellow did, not that I find Smollett anywhere near as engaging as Bellow.

If you've ever read any picaresque novels, you've read Roderick Random. Interminable japes lead to misunderstandings, whee
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
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
Eighteenth century picaresque is not to everyone's taste and I would not recommend anyone to try and digest Smollett's debut novel in a couple of days - there is simply so much that happens. It is unrefined and cluttered, but the eponymous hero, a penniless Scottish gentleman, suffers more trials and tribulations than possibly any character in literature before he can claim his lady love Narcissa. He is beset by swindlers, hoodwinked, highway robbed, sent to sea, serves as a surgeon's assistant ...more
Lukas Evan
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brit-lit
Dial "P" for picaresque.
Doreen Petersen
May 21, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Maybe it's me but while reading this book I found it started out really good but as the book went along it fell rather flat. I didn't really care for it. Just my opinion.
Ruthie Jones
Nov 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2010
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.
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating descriptions of life on a British navy ship in the mid 1700s, but as far as a good read, not near as good as Anthony Trollope .
Richard Titus
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Adventures of Roderick Random" (published 1748) reminded me very much of "The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling" (published 1749). If these two books are any indication of public taste at the time, it would indicate readers of that era loved long, circuitous tales detailing a protagonist's ride on a roller coaster of vicissitudes through life from one extreme life style to another. They're compelled to fight onward with hubris and optimism, succeeding sometimes by their wits, and other time ...more
Larry Piper
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crap
God was this tedious. I suppose if one were an English Lit. major and wanted to delve back into the beginnings of novel writing, this might be an ok place to begin. But if you're just an ordinary person looking for a GoodRead, this book is not likely to satisfy you. The writing style is long-winded and archaic (albeit not so archaic as Shakespeare or Chaucer). The story line, such as it is, is meandering and rather pointless.

It seems that one Roderick Random suffers an almost endless series of
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first, I couldn't read more than a few paragraphs without falling asleep, but I got more and more involved with the hero and ended up thoroughly enjoying this. Don't read it for a tight consistent plot or character development, it's just not that sort of novel. One of the aspects that fascinates me most is the bawdiness and vulgarity of the writing in the mid eighteenth century, of a level that wouldn't be seen again in the mainstream till the mid twentieth. I mean, no-one in Austen or Dicken ...more
Mar 29, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, fiction, mexico
For me the quality of writing here gives this book a 5 star rating. But as far as entertaining goes, this only gets a 3 star rating. i started reading this months ago and forgot about it until last week. I purchased this volume 49 years ago, along with 5 others. this being in the best condition, i had it rebound 40 years ago at the cost of 50 dollars. two days pay at the time, then put it with my other antique books. it was printed in 1808. Glad i waited to read it because if i had tried to do s ...more
Paul O'Leary
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If 18th century picaresque Scottish writers suit your druthers than you've probably already heard of Smollett. This was his first novel, I believe. The humor is ribald. The bathos laid on intentionally thick. The hero is repeatedly flung into dire straits, amplified by injustice and societal class bigotry & exploitation. One character, the high-placed sponsor the hero puts his faith and remaining meager worth in, was allegedly based on the infamous Lord Chesterfield. The story ends with the ...more
Jan 08, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing happens in this book. I'm not saying that in a Seinfeldian kind of way, where nothing happens, but plenty happens in between. No, nothing happens, and I don't even mean that nothing of import or interest happens. No, nothing happens. There isn't a thing or an event that actually occurs. The book is a black hole of nothingness. It didn't just bore me, it zombied me. You know what's worse than doing nothing? Doing something and having it feel like you're doing nothing. Now that's torture. ...more
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 12, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
* 1000 novels everyone must read: the definitive list: Comedy

Selected by the Guardian's Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels – no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems – from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements – love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel – they appear here for the
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.
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.
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.
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.
Feb 03, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, fiction
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.
Philip Lane
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!)
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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
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