Travels through France and Italy
  • Publication Date: August 26, 2011
  • ISBN: 9781554810314 / 1554810310
  • 386 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Travels through France and Italy

  • Publication Date: August 26, 2011
  • ISBN: 9781554810314 / 1554810310
  • 386 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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

Tobias Smollett: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

Travels through France and Italy

Appendix A: Selections from Smollett’s Correspondence

  1. To Richard Smith Esq. (8 May 1763)
  2. To Dr. William Hunter (14 June 1763)
  3. To Dr. William Hunter (11 July 1763)
  4. To Francis Seymour Conway, Earl of Hertford (11 July 1763)
  5. List of Books Prepared by Smollett and Sent with the Letter to Lord Hertford
  6. To Alexander Reid (3 August 1763)
  7. To Dr. William Hunter (11 August 1763)
  8. To Dr. William Hunter (6 February 1764)
  9. To Dr. John Moore (15 July 1765)
  10. To Dr. John Moore (13 November 1765)

Appendix B: Contemporary Reviews

  1. From the St. James’s Chronicle (8 May 1766)
  2. From The Critical Review (May 1766)
  3. From The Monthly Review (June 1766)
  4. From The Royal Magazine (May 1766)
  5. From The London Magazine (May 1766)
  6. From the Journal Encyclopédique (August/September
  7. From the Gazette Littéraire de l’Europe (15 February
  8. From the Bibliothèque des Sciences et des Beaux Arts

Appendix C: The Malevolent Philip Thicknesse

  1. From Philip Thicknesse, Observations on the Customs and Manners of the French Nation (1766)
  2. From the Notice of Thicknesse’s Observations on the Customs and Manners of the French Nation,
    The Critical Review (December 1766)
  3. From Philip Thicknesse, Useful Hints to Those Who Make the Tour of France (1768)
  4. From Philip Thicknesse, A Year’s Journey through France, and Part of Spain (1777)

Appendix D: Laurence Sterne and “the learned Smelfungus”

  1. From [Laurence Sterne], A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy (1768)
  2. From Letters of Laurence Sterne
    1. To Lady D[acre?] (9 July 1762)
    2. To Robert Foley (14 August 1762)
    3. To Robert Hay Drummond (7 May 1763)
    4. To Mrs. F[enton?] (1 February 1764)

Appendix E: From Samuel Sharp, Letters from Italy (1766)

  1. Cicisbei
  2. Italian Inns
  3. The Arts of Rome
  4. Italian Gardens
  5. The English on the Grand Tour

Appendix F: Late-Eighteenth-Century Responses to Smollett

  1. From Thomas McMahon, The Candor and Good-Nature of Englishmen Exemplified (1777)
  2. From Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, &c. (1788)
  3. From Francis Garden, Travelling Memorandums (1791)
  4. From Sir James Edward Smith, A Sketch of a Tour on the Continent (1793)

Appendix G: Nineteenth-Century Responses to Smollett

  1. From The Port-Folio (November 1811)
  2. From Leigh Hunt, Correspondence (1862)
  3. From Sir Walter Scott, “Prefatory Memoir to Smollett” (1 September 1824)
  4. From W.J. Prowse, “Smollett at Nice” (April 1870)
  5. From Thomas Seccombe, “Smelfungus Goes South” (August 1901)

Appendix H: Contexts

  1. Extract of a letter from Paris, Public Advertiser (1 November 1763)
  2. From Dodsley’s Annual Register (1762)
  3. Letter from George Bassmore to The London Magazine (September 1766)
  4. Extract of a letter from a “Plain Englishman,” The Gentleman’s Magazine (1787)

Appendix I: The Venus de’ Medici in Context

Appendix J: A Bookseller in Sittingbourne

Select Bibliography


Frank Felsenstein is Reed D. Voran Honors Distinguished Professor in Humanities and Professor of English at Ball State University.