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Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour (World's Classics) [Paperback]

R. S. Surtees , Joyce Cary , John Leach
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 1982 World's Classics
Written by the author of "Handley Cross", this volume presents the tales of Mr Sponge and other characters. It is a fine example of Surtees' craft.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; Reprint edition (Dec 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192815210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192815217
  • Product Dimensions: 18.6 x 11.6 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,532,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Robert Smith Surtees, (1802-1864), English novelist and sporting writer, was the second son of Anthony Surtees of Hamsterley Hall, a member of an old Durham family. After co-founding the New Sporting Magazine, Surtees took to writing sporting novels, amongst them Hillingdon Hall, Ask Mamma, and Mr Facey Romford's Hounds, which was published following his death in March 1864. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read 7 April 2010
Format:Paperback
I must admit that I didn't buy this book. I picked up a late 1890's copy when my wife was in hospital - and kept it.

It is one of the best books I have ever read. the characters come to life and, despite the period, are so true to life that you can see the same kind of people around you today.

Get it, read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hunting For Love 23 Sep 2013
By Charles Vasey TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Surtees wrote a number of excellent novels taking a slantendicular look at the habits of the English through the prism of fox hunting. Given that large numbers of the wealthy had nothing much to do most of the time it is hardly surprising they met via sport (Foxbook rather than Facebook). The novel, however, concerns not one of the wealthy but a chancer whose aim is not just to hunt the fox but the heiress. Mr Sponge seeks to make a few guineas selling horses, save a few guineas by lodging with the wealthy as their guest, and to hunt for the heiress with a lot of guineas. This rather parasitic existence arising from the fact that for many men lacking a trade but having the elements of good breeding one either had inherited wealth or a choice of the legitimate lines of industry which are (as Facey Romford notes) "poaching, betting, boxing, horse-dealing, cards and quoits". In short the refusal to allow young middle and upper-class women to pursue a career or profession was echoed for their male counterparts (especially younger brothers) - the Church and the Army being valuable sources of employment.

As Mr Sponge (the names of characters are indicative of their nature) rolls round an unnamed English county we meet a wide range of the locals (toffs and grooms). Surtees has an excellent turn of phrase and a keen eye together with being very amusing. The New Years Day hunt where the local youth turn out at Sir Harry Scattercash's being particularly good. It might seem all very distant but it did remind me of conversation with one set of grandparents who met over the hunting field.

Those of you who are hunt saboteurs will note that the principle of the "bag-fox" (a fox released to be hunted) was well-established back then. Indeed there is much that does not seem to have changed for good or ill.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic! 11 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback
I came across Surtees many years ago, following sevral references to his characters in The Memoirs of A Fox-hunting Man (also highly recommended, especially his description of a village cricket match in 1903 or thereabouts).

I have all of Surtees works, but to be honest only two of them are worth reading today: Mr Sponge's Sporting Tour and Mr Facey Romford's Hounds. But don't read them with a 21st century mind-set. Forget political correctness, these are tough, no-nonsense, down to earth stories, where the heroes, Facey Romford and Soapy Sponge, are hard-bitten, hard-riding, harsh-dealing fox-hunting characters with no respect for the weak and gullible. Sponge was first published in book form in 1852, but to my mind the story really harks back to Regency times, when there was fast living, heavy drinking, gambling etc. (Surtees's father, for example, was described by Nimrod, the first sports writer, as "a true sample of the old English squire and as good a judge of... a bottle of port wine ... as any man in England.") Surtees himself was born in 1805, and it took some time for the puritanical Victorian attitudes to become commonplace in country areas.

As an example of Regency attitudes, Mr Puffington, one of the minor characters, now aged 40 reminisces of the the time when, in his 20's, after a night's hard drinking, would go out with friends to find and beat up night watchmen, break open their heads, and steal their rattles, for "fun". Could this perhaps be a memory of Surtees's time studying for the bar in London?

Naturally the book deals with fox-hunting, but this should not cause anybody to squeamishly turn up their nose at it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touring England for Fun and Profit 12 Aug 2003
Format:Paperback
Soapey Sponge is the proto-protagonist of the mid-Victorian/Modern era. He doesn't quite look the hero, (more like Diary of a Nobody's Mr. Pooter), and certainly doesn't act it. However his planning, opportunism and gall all very refreshing after a century of earnest heroes and cookie cutter villains.
Surtees has a sure hand in portraying the Foxy Set,wannabe's, various misanthropes, hanger's on and horse peddlars that one can certainly believe not only existed, but were par for the course in rural English society of the day.
A wonderful comic romp and satire of the age.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I cannot pretend to have heard of this book before I read it but the success of it in the 1850s was so great that it led Dickens' publishers to suggest that he write something in a similar vein, resulting in The Pickwick Papers. It is the story of a fox hunter who travels about the country inviting himself to people's houses whilst passing himself off as a wealthy man. Once installed, he sponges from them mercilessly until they manage to get rid of him. It is a pleasant, amusing story, although I found the descriptions of the kills at the end of the hunts hard to take. However, it is Sponge's tricks that make up the main part of the book and these are enjoyable to read. I never found myself caring about Sponge though, he is vain, selfish and quite one-dimensional. Surtees is not by any means a writer of the calibre of Dickens; compare Sponge to a character like Mr Jingle in Pickwick Papers and Surtees' shortcomings are obvious. That said, I did enjoy reading the book and will willingly read more by Surtees.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent!
Published 3 days ago by Kay Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars Hunting at its best, as is to be found in all Surtees
Wonderful description of hunting and sporting life in the better days a hundred years ago. None of the whingeing do-gooders allowed to roam round the countryside.
Published 3 months ago by Charles Vintcent
1.0 out of 5 stars Text unreadably small
I never got as far as reading this book. The text is unreadable it's so tiny. I'm sure it's a great book, but look for another publisher if you don't want to damage your... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Fiona
5.0 out of 5 stars as described
This arrived promptly and in good condition. The book was bought as a present and so I only read a short section from the first chapter. Read more
Published on 11 Jun 2012 by will
2.0 out of 5 stars Too small
I have known and loved the story of Mr Sponge's Sporting Tour for a long time. In a recent move I lost my old 1920's copy and decided to buy a new copy. Read more
Published on 18 Mar 2009 by SY
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Sponge -- a diamond read
This is a forgotten classic, and many potential readers will be put off by the core theme linking the scenes of this novel - fox-hunting. Read more
Published on 31 Jan 2004 by MR BA East
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic - Austen Eat Your Heart Out!
Forget the prissy mush peddled by the 'romantic' authors so associated with the early Victorian era - this is the real thing. Read more
Published on 19 Jan 2004
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