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The Adventures of Roderick Random (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Tobias Smollett , Paul-Gabriel Boucé
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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The Adventures of Roderick Random (Oxford World's Classics) The Adventures of Roderick Random (Oxford World's Classics) 3.8 out of 5 stars (6)
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Book Description

15 July 1999 0192837168 978-0192837165 New edition
Roderick Random (1748), Smollett's first novel, is full of the dazzling vitality characteristics of all his work, as well as of his own life. Roderick is the boisterous and unprincipled hero who answers life's many misfortunes with a sledgehammer. Left penniless, he leaves his native Scotland for London and on the wat meets Strap, and old schoolfellow. Together they undergo many adventures at the hands of scoundrels and rogues. Roderick qualifies as a surgeon's mate and is pressed as a common soldier on bord the man-of-war Thunder. In a tale of romance as well as adventure, Roderick also finds time to fall in love... Smollett drew on his own experiences as a surgeon's mate in the navy for the memorable scenes on bord ship, and the novel combines documentary realism with great humour and panache.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (15 July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192837168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192837165
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.7 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,102,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This is a wonderful and important novel and its present editor who provides us with a very fine introduction is one of the great authorities on the period and author."--Gerald J. Butler, San Diego State Univ.

About the Author

James G. Basker is the Richard Gilder Professor of Literary History at Barnard College. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including "Tobias Smollett: Critic and Journalist" and "Amazing Grace: An Anthology of Poems about Slavery, 1660-1810." The late Paul-Gabriel Bouce, professor at the University of Paris, wrote and edited many books, including "Sexuality in Eighteenth-Century Britain." Nicole A. Seary is a researcher at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
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 quality of a judge, particularly against beggars, for whom he had a singular aversion. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Yarn 11 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was Tobias Smollett's first novel, and was quite successful at the time of its publication. Unfortunately Smollett fell out of favour in Victorian times as he was considered a bit vulgar as he portrayed what was considered as low toilet humour.

This tale follows Roderick Random from his birth onwards. Born in Scotland his father was disinherited for marrying his mother. His mother dies shortly after his birth and his father disappears leaving him to be brought up by his grandfather. Abused at school, and having to make his own way in the world Roderick travels to London with a friend. Using his own experiences Smollett weaves a good story that is semi-autobiographical in parts. Meeting a multitude of people on his travels Random eventually joins the Royal Navy as a surgeon's mate. Smollett drew heavily on his own experiences to portray life as it was then in the navy, and in the battle that was fought that was part of that little known war, 'The War of Jenkin's Ear'.

After leaving the navy Random joins the French Army before coming into contact with his friend again. Setting himself up as a gentleman Random then tries to be a fortune hunter, looking for a rich wife to live off. Random finds friends, people who sponge off him, outright cads and a number of other people that bring this tale to life. Some complain that his female characters are one dimensional, but Smollett was writing for a predominately male audience, and they are there really as foils to the story.

With some great humour, including toilet humour, along with biting satire, especially how the navy and government worked in those days this book has a lot to offer anyone interested in the literautre of the 18th century, as well as what the world was like in those days.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very amusing read 24 Aug 2010
"Roderick Random", published 1748, was the first novel of the great comic novelist Tobias Smollett, a picaresque work telling of the title character's early life and progress through the world, from obscure birth, brought up by relations who despised him, schooled by a tyrant, then out into the world where he gets tricked and cheated at every step. Smollett was certainly a cynic about people, but he's always able to raise a laugh at such things, and is also not above humour involving chamber pots emptying on people's heads and the like. The gallery of rogues and eccentrics that makes up the cast of "Roderick Random" is endlessly entertaining. Smollett is a great humorist and a beautiful stylist in that understated and slily witty 18th century way.

The influence he had on Dickens is clear from reading this, which was one of the young Dickens' favorite books. Smollett doesn't have Dickens' weakness for sentimentality - at least until the pat ending, but that was the way books ended in those days. Random also gets involved in the slave trade, and it's interesting that there's no hint of a moral dilemma here, notwithstanding Smollett's general humanity and sensitivity.

I enjoyed pretty much every page of this. The devotion of Strap to Random did stretch my credulity a bit. Even after Random leaves Strap, Strap is only too happy to make over all his money to Random when they accidentally meet again, and stand meekly by as the impetuous Random wastes it gambling and socializing.
But great style, wit, humour, astute and unsentimental depiction of human kind, all in all, a very good read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Roderick Random 12 Oct 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The edition is fine … but sadly I found the book heavy going :(
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