Tobias Smollett travelled through Europe with his wife in 1763-65 in a journey designed to recover his mental and physical health after the death of their daughter. The resulting travel narrative provoked controversy and anger in the eighteenth century, when it was often negatively compared to Laurence Sterne’s fictional European travels in A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. Unlike Sterne’s sensitive hero, Smollett is argumentative, acerbic, and often contemptuous of local customs.
In addition to a critical introduction, this edition provides extensive annotation and appendices with material on Smollett’s correspondence, the book’s reception in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, related travel writing, and Smollett’s infamous satirization as “Smelfungus” in Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey.
“Acrimonious and ill-humored, acutely observed and shrewdly expressed, behold the notorious Travels of Tobias Smollett. A less sentimental traveler the world has hardly seen, whose life and opinions during an eighteen-month ramble through France and Italy stand confessed on the page in all the majesty of his spleen and intellect. The Travels are here rescued from the long shade cast upon them by Laurence Sterne, who sarcastically dismissed them as the philistine grousing of ‘Smelfungus.’ Editor Frank Felsenstein, who produced this classroom-ready volume for Broadview based on his definitive Oxford edition, has done a masterful job of relocating Smollett’s work in its contemporary contexts and critical tradition. With judicious notes, and a truly learned set of appendices that abridge two and a half centuries of reviews and responses, Felsenstein has brought into sharp focus the polarizing writer whose unstinting account of a less-than-grand tour is here made relevant and relatable to contemporary students of eighteenth-century life.” — Al Coppola, Assistant Professor of English, John Jay College, City University of New York, and Chair of the Columbia University Seminar in Eighteenth-Century European Culture
“Frank Felsenstein has updated and enriched for the twenty-first century his excellent Oxford edition of Tobias Smollett’s irascibly entertaining Travels. Although Laurence Sterne, another great novelist and satirist, portrayed Smollett as the bad-tempered Smelfungus in his Sentimental Journey, published two years later, these non-fictional letters have some of the joys of Smollett’s fictional creation, the splenetic Matt Bramble, in his greatest novel, Humphry Clinker. The fresh material on offer here includes eighteenth- and nineteenth-century reader reception, select relevant passages from Smollett’s correspondence, art criticism of the time, information about the grand tour, and even the advertisement of a bookseller who sold Smollett’s volume to tourists on their way to France. Felsenstein’s Introduction and annotation are written with a high order of intelligence, clarity, and knowledge. This will be a welcome edition for students and the general reader.” — Robert Folkenflik, Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professor of English, University of California, Irvine
“Authoritative and affordable, Mr. Felsenstein’s edition of Travels through France and Italy will become a favourite textbook for those who teach eighteenth-century travel writing and literary nonfiction … Mr. Felsenstein’s new edition—thoughtfully constructed, responsibility edited, carefully annotated—is welcome and timely.” — Christopher Johnson, The Scriblerian
“I have always wanted a solidly researched and well annotated paperback edition of the letters, with notes at the bottom of the page (rather than those cumbersome endnotes), a good introduction, and a wide-ranging bibliography. Not only does this edition have these, it offers an excellent apparatus that includes a chronology of events related to the life of Montagu, and more than one hundred pages of addition information, ranging from selections of other letters by her, to a discussion of her role in the history of smallpox inoculation, and brief excerpts illustrating European views of Islam … I will use it in my courses.” — Nabil Matar, The Scriblerian