SMOLLETT, TOBIAS. (BINDINGS - HARCOURT BINDERY).
THE ADVENTVRES OF COVNT FATHOM.(London: The Navarre Society Ltd. 1902]). 181 x 114 mm (7 1/8 x 4 1/2"). Two volumes. Edited by George Saintsbury. ONE OF 2,000 COPIES.
VERY FINE BURGUNDY MOROCCO, HANDSOMELY GILT AND ONLAID, BY THE HARCOURT BINDERY OF BOSTON (stamp-signed on front flyleaf), boards with triple fillet border, EACH COVER WITH AN ELABORATE HERALDIC FRAME OF GILT AND ONLAID GREEN MOROCCO around an empty oval, raised bands, very pretty gilt spine compartments featuring looping tendril frame enclosing a charming flower centerpiece, densely gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. Two frontispieces by George Cruikshank. A VERY FINE COPY, the bindings especially bright, and the text with virtually no signs of use.
A man of many abilities and considerable experience, Smollett (1721-71) made major contributions as an historian, critic, editor, translator, and, above all, novelist. In this last capacity, he is generally seen as a master of faithful naturalistic narrative and, at the same time, the first important caricaturist in English fiction. He wrote some of the best early fiction involving men on ships, and he is one of the few writers who brought to his narratives a sense of the intellectual life of the period. The present work is described by Day as "a bizarre mixture of the picaresque novel and the criminal biography . . . ending sentimentally." Except when he embraces righteousness at the conclusion, the title character is a villain of the first order, remorselessly betraying one benefactor after another. Critics agree that the most important scenes of this novel are those where Ferdinand is terrified by a storm and by the ghost of a girl he attempted to seduce, moments that presage the gothic novels of Monk Lewis and Anne Radcliff. (ST11047k)