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The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  3,013 ratings  ·  159 reviews
Offers a picture of eighteenth-century society. This story describes Squire Bramble's tour of the Britain of George III.
Paperback, 414 pages
Published 1967 by Penguin (first published 1771)
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3.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,013 ratings  ·  159 reviews


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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
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 calling it "one of the funniest novels of all time." It's certainly witty and chucklew ...more
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 Welsh origin of the family and significance of Edinburgh as archetypal 'big city' and in the slightly Don Quixote-like character of the Scottish Officer they pick up in Edinburgh.

One of the few novels
...more
Alex
Mar 04, 2015 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
...more
TheSkepticalReader
bored. let’s move on.
Derek Davis
Apr 22, 2012 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
...more
Nicola
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
3 1/2 stars

This is an epistolyary novel comprised of the letters of five very different comunicators. I found it more interesting than entertaining. Although a work of fiction it was still a fairly detailed traveloge, crammed full of the personalities and popular places of the time. The grumpy misanthropic uncle (Mathew Bramble) saw everything through a lens of distaste which no doubt highlighted everything more than a less critical observer would have done. Not much escaped his scathing pen and
...more
Andrew
Aug 05, 2009 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
A.L. Stumo
Apr 29, 2011 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
...more
Leah
Broadening the mind...

Matthew Bramble, hypochondriac and charitable Welsh gentleman with a choleric temper and a humorously jaundiced view of life, takes his family on a journey round Britain seeking benefit to his health. As each member of the party writes letters to their friends, we see the country and its regional customs through their eyes, meeting with some interesting and often eccentric characters, and being witness to some hilarious (and some not so hilarious) episodes along the way. To
...more
Scott
Feb 05, 2010 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
...more
Shelley
Mar 29, 2008 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
...more
Neale
Oct 29, 2013 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?
jcg
Aug 16, 2013 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
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.
Sotiris Karaiskos
In the beginning this book made me a bit confused. The author narrates the story through a series of letters, making it difficult to follow the plot. From some point onwards, however, I managed to make some sense and then things became particularly interesting. Through these letters we take a good look at the British society of the time, with all the established situations and the changes that were in the making. I particularly liked the fact that the writers of these letters have different perc ...more
William Korn
An entrancing, howlingly funny, informative, exquisitely written novel about a trip around Great Britain by a country squire and his retinue during the reign of George III.

Matthew Bramble, a country squire whose seat is in Gloucester, embarks on a tour of Britain including Bath, London, York, Scarborough, Edinburgh, the Scottish Highlands, among other places, returning eventually by slow stages to his estate. He is accompanied by his sister, niece and nephew, and his sister's servant. Along the
...more
George Fowles
Feb 07, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Had to DNF this book. It was just too boring! I was going to push through with it being a university book but i just can’t do it. It contains nothing that sparks any sort of essay. I would rather spend my time being nice immersed in books I love.
Mieneke
Jul 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Published in June 1771, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker was 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 Clinker is 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 ...more
Tarissa
What I liked?
It's a fun style of book. You're just reading letters that go back and forth between family and friends, and the reader pieces the story together through their eyes. You get to “see” a lot of England and Scotland too, as the characters are from various places and travel around too.

My favorite character is Tabitha Bramble, a high-spirited woman, who is probably an annoyance to everyone she knows, except to me as the reader, since I don't have to talk with her personally... but just w
...more
k.wing
Feb 28, 2012 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
...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Jun 26, 2012 marked it as paused  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Snail in Danger (Sid) by: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?msa=...
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.
William
Between reading this and Boswell/Johnson's Hebridean travel book, I seem this year to have struck upon the interesting niche-genre of the 18th century multi-perspective account of the western Scottish islands. I wonder how many more there are out there?
Nathan
Jan 08, 2014 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
...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
K.
Nov 15, 2015 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
...more
Witch of Angmar
Oct 29, 2014 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
Laura
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...
Erich
Dec 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is little for me to recommend in this book. The plot is thin and uneventful. The epistolary form has potential for developing character and showing characters' differing views, but Smollet is ham-handed about it. For a servant with real expedition, see Sam Weller. For an engaging sentimental journey of 18th-century Europe, see Laurence Sterne.
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Reading 1001: The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett 1 3 Jan 19, 2017 07:30PM  

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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 against the Spanish at Cartagena in 1741.

He married a British woman Anne Lascelles, in Jamaica, 1747,and settled in Englan
...more
“The capital is become an overgrown monster; which like a dropsical head, will in time leave the body and extremities without nourishment and support.” 5 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
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