Tobias Smollett and the work of writing

Jones, Richard J. (2018). Tobias Smollett and the work of writing. Literature Compass, 15(8), article no. e12485.



This essay offers an overview of the state of Smollett Studies today. It is also an argument about what makes Tobias Smollett interesting. It therefore seeks to avoid the value judgments about “English literature” that have dogged Smollett's reputation (ever since “English literature” was invented) and restore him to the “work of writing” in which he was engaged. The essay thus provides an account of the wide‐ranging nature of his work in order to balance a previous critical emphasis on his novels. It includes some views of his role as a translator, historian, critic, editor, and, perhaps more provocatively, “hack.” Recent studies in eighteenth‐century print culture and the (Scottish) Enlightenment point the way to a new Smollett, at work within a messier history of writing.

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