Tobias George Smollett (19 March 1721 – 17 September 1771) was a Scottish poet and author. He was best known for his picaresque novels, such as The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748) and The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (1751), which influenced later novelists such as Charles Dickens.
"Minute circumstances, says the adage, can accumulate into vast coincidence. Even thought the effect has shocking reverberations, it does not follow that the machinery of its cause must also be enormous. Nice increments of chance repeated over and over again can create bast designs. In writing Roderick Random, Tobias Smollett used a similar pattern of minute particulars in apparently chance arrangements. But because the character of Roderick Random signifies his name, violent and impetuous, one mistakenly presumes that the design of 'his' narrative is similarly capricious and sprawling."
"I was born in the northern part of this united kingdom, in the house of my grandfather, a gentleman of considerable fortune and influence, who had on many occasions signalized himself in behalf of his country; and was remarkable for his abilities in the law, which he exercised with great success, in the station of a judge, particularly against beggars, for whom he had a singular aversion."
The pills are good for nothing - I might as well swallow snow-balls to cool my reins - I have told you over and over how harm I am to move; an at this time of day, I ought to know something of my on constitution. Why will you be so positive? Prithee send me another prescription - I am as lame and as much tortured in all my limbs as if I was broke upon the wheel."
"We have yet to comprehend the full significance of the grotesque in Tobias Smollett's fiction. Although 'grotesque is frequently used in discussions of Smollett's achievement, one sense that until very recently the term has had a connotational pejorative bias, so that somehow Smollett appears to be aesthetically inferior to Henry Fielding or Laurence Sterne."
About 1747, Smollett was married to Miss Lascelles, a beautiful and accomplished woman, to whom he had become attached in the West Indies. Instead of an expected fortune of £3000, he gained by this connexion only a lawsuit, and increased the expense of housekeeping, which he was still less able to afford, and was again obliged to have recourse to his literary talents.
Following his return to Britain in 1741, Smollett practised as a surgeon in London while attempting, unsuccessfully, to establish himself as a playwright and poet before turning, in his late twenties, to the novel. Even after his youthful success with <i>Roderick Random</i> (1748) and <i>Peregrine Pickle</i> (1751), he still pursued a career in medicine.
His specialty was the picaresque novel, which took the hero (with the reader happily perched on his shoulder) on a wild ride, which not only could take them all over the country and through the dens and warrens of London, but overseas into who knows what perils.
Smollett came of a family of lawyers and soldiers, Whig in politics and Presbyterian in religion. In 1727 or 1728 he entered Dumbarton grammar school, proceeding from there to the University of Glasgow and apprenticeship to William Stirling and John Gordon, surgeons of that city.
He left the university in 1739 without a degree and went to London, taking with him his play <i>The Regicide</i>. A year later he was commissioned surgeon’s second mate in the Royal Navy and appointed to HMS Chichester, which reached Port Royal, Jam., on Jan. 10, 1741. It is probable that Smollett saw action in the naval bombardment of Cartagena (now in Colombia). The expedition was disastrous; he would later describe its horrors in <i>Roderick Random</i>.
Tobias Smollett was a Scottish author best known for his novels <i>The Adventures of Roderick Random</i> and <i>The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle</i>, following which he became a major literary figure associated with the likes of David Garrick, Laurence Sterne, Charles Dickens and Samuel Johnson. In 1755 he published the standard translation of Cervantes’ <i>Don Quixote</i>, and in 1756, he became editor of <i>The Critical Review</i>.