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December 20 , 2009

Tobias Smollett in the Enlightenment

Travels through France, Italy, and Scotland


Tobias Smollett (1721-71) is best known today as a novelist. In the eighteenth-century, he was principally regarded as a historian and critic. In this book, Richard J. Jones explores the diversity of Smollett's journalistic and literary writings. In doing so, he establishes new connections between Smollett's work and contemporary writers of the Scottish Enlightenment. Smollett is presented, much like the philosopher David Hume, as a Scot in London, writing history and critical essays. The book takes as its focal point Smollett's visit to Nice, between 1763 and 1765, and the account he wrote of it in Travels through France and Italy (1766). This account is usually seen as a 'travel narrative'. However, Jones argues that it should more properly be read as 'pocket encyclopedia' in the tradition of Voltaire. Jones offers a productive juxtaposition of authors, texts, and contexts for readers interested in questions of genre, Enlightenment thought, and the cosmopolitan nature of eighteenth-century culture.

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