Title: The Expedition of Humphry Clinker
Author: Tobias Smollet
Genre: Classic Epistolary/Picaresque Novel
Pages: 392
Rating: 3.5 of 5

This reminded me of a slightly less silly The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. In both of them, the titular character is not the protagonist for the majority of the book (in this book, he isn’t even the narrator!), in both of them the plot is pretty minimal (though this book has a bit more), and in both of them the humor is a bit rude (Tristram Shandy more bawdy & Humphry Clinker more gross).

The plot (such as it is) follows the curmudgeonly (but good-hearted) Welshman, Matthew Bramble, and his household as they play the tourist from Bath up through parts of Scotland and home again. The story is told through letters from various members of the party, each with their own voice. Plot threads include acquiring a new servant (the eponymous Humphry Clinker), a secret romance, and a straight-laced old aunt’s desperate attempts to catch a man. The eccentric characters and ridiculous situations along the way are fairly entertaining, but there were places where it really dragged. I have the feeling that a more thorough understanding of the era and knowledge of the places they visit would make this an even more enjoyable book. Overall, not a bad read, but I can’t see ever bothering to read it again.

Also, I am using this for the Travel or Adventure Classic category over at the Back to the Classics Challenge 2021.

5 thoughts on “Epistolary Meandering

    1. A few other books with goofy sounding titles reminiscent of Dickens character names…though who I kept thinking of was the captain in Treasure Island (especially as played by Kermit the Frog).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Honestly, I think that has to be one of the best adaptations of Treasure Island. Tim Curry is just brilliant as Long John Silver, like he stepped straight out of the book.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I rewatched it soon after rewatching a Muppet Christmas Carol and I must say, I think Treasure Island was the better movie. It simply nailed everything perfectly.

        Like

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