(London: R. Baldwin, 1766). 211 x 132 mm. (8 3/8 x 5 1/8"). Two volumes. FIRST EDITION.
Attractive contemporary sprinkled calf, raised bands, two brown morocco labels with gilt lettering, gilt-rolled edges. Pastedowns with the bookplate of William Constable, and with (presumably) his marginal pencil markings throughout, mostly in the form of short dashes, "X" marks, and the occasional notation. Very slight wear to joints and spine tops, a few small patches of lost patina from insect activity, trivial problems internally, but a fine unsophisticated copy, the bindings with no significant imperfections, and the text especially fresh and clean.
From the author of popular picaresque novels "Roderick Ransom" and "Peregrine Pickle" comes this cavilling travelogue based on Smollett's 1763-65 sojourn in the south of France. Suffering from the consumption that had killed his teenage daughter and from grief at the death of his only child, Smollett (1721-71) was sent to the warm Mediterranean climate to recover his health. Within six months, he was feeling much better and his quick mind was casting about for amusement, so he decided to learn Italian and spend time travelling the region. Like so many of his fellow countrymen, he found "abroad" severely wanting in the niceties of life. Here he takes issue with the people, the customs, and the accommodations but, as DNB observes, "accounts of altercations with unhelpful natives are more than offset by the range of Smollett's observations—on climate, arts, religion, agriculture, hygiene, and trade—and by the practical concern underpinning many of his proposals: he recognized the potential as a health resort of the village of Cannes and pointed out the need for a highway along the Riviera (the building of the Corniche road was instigated by Napoleon)." His querulous screed was the inspiration for the irascible character of Smelfungus in Laurence Sterne's "A Sentimental Journey." 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. Former owner William Constable (1721-90) was an avid collector of objects ranging from art, books, and coins to scientific and natural history specimens. His Cabinet(s) of Curiosities may still be viewed at the Hull City Museums and at his family home, Burton Constable Hall. (ST15731a)
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PJP Catalog: 76.170