Humphry Clinker

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The Expedition of Humphry Clinker was the last of the picaresque novels of Tobias Smollett, first published in 1771, and is considered by many to be Smollett's best and funniest work. It is an epistolary novel, presented in the form of letters written by five different characters.

Much of the comedy arises from differences in the descriptions of the same events by different participants. Attributions of motives and descriptions of behavior show wild variation and reveal much about the character of the teller. The setting, amidst the high-society spa towns and seaside resorts of the 18th century provides his characters with many oportunities for satirical observations on English life and manners.

The author's own travels in Scotland, France and Italy helped provide inspiration for the plot.

The title character, Humphry Clinker, is an ostler, a stableman an an inn, who does not make his first appearance until about a quarter of the way through the story. He is taken on by Matthew Bramble, a Welshman, and his family who are travelling through England. Various adventures befall them, especially after their meeting with Lieutenant Lismahago, a Scotsman, who joins their party. After various romantic interludes, Humphry suffers false imprisonment but is rescued and returned to his sweetheart, the maid Winifred Jenkins. It is then discovered that Humphry is Mr. Bramble's long-lost son.

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