Apologies to all who actually enjoy this novel. I am not a fan, and in being of such a low opinion of Mr. Smollet's so-called "finest work", this may seem harsh.
First off, if you'll notice by my previous posts, I can easily read a novel in a very short amount of time, if it appeals to me. It's nothing against the picaresque* genre (if you're not sure what a picaresque novel is, it's basically a long narrative, think The Pickwick Papers, The Adventures of Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop...) I adore Dickens' picaresque novels, but Smollet's style of writing was mind-numbing at best. Which is odd since Smollett influenced Dickens greatly.
Now, considering the fact that this is 240 years after Mr. Smollet's 'Expedition of Humphry Clinker' you'd think I'd be less shocked at the contents of this novel. Not so. At times I was nauseous by the imagery, and uncomfortable with the unabashed nature of some of the occurrences within the story. In order to make sense of some of my problems with the novel, I'll present them in list form. I'll try to keep it brief.
1. Certain parts in the book reminded me of that icky 11 year old boy humor. You know, potty jokes, spitting, nudity etc.
2. The letters from the women ranged from the vapid schoolgirl to the completely unschooled moronic utterings of an air-headed servant (not to mention the fact that they were often riddled with such illiteracy that it was difficult to make sense of what was being conveyed). I wanted so badly to skip any section written by the stupid females, but to do justice to my goal, I read on.
3. Not to be outdone, the letters written by the male characters were pompous and full of the most infernal pretentious style.
4. Stories written by one character were then reiterated by another... sometimes a stupid insignificant event was recounted several times in a row. Talk about beating a dead horse.
5. Humphry isn't even introduced until well into this novel. He's a character impossible to relate to because you never read his own words. It's like you get to know everyone except for the novel's namesake.
I need some mental stimulation after this vacuous novel. If you feel the need for a few hundred pages of torturous ramblings, don't buy it, I'll give you my copy, I'd rather not own it anymore.