'What is the society of London, that I should be tempted, for its sake, to mortify my senses, and compound with such uncleanness as my soul abhors?'
The gout-ridden and irascible squire Matthew Bramble makes his way across Britain with his family, and finds himself everywhere surrounded by decadents, pimps and con-men, made to bathe in befouled water and to suffer raucousness and degeneracy. And as the group travels it acquires another member: the trusty manservant Humphry Clinker.
Smollett's masterpiece is a boisterously funny lambasting of eighteenth-century British society, written with a relish for earthy humour and for wordplay, with a ferocious pessimism and populated with unforgettable grotesques. It is also, with its competing narrative voices, an inspired and remarkably modern achievement.
Penguin English Library