Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane Vol I & II – T. Smollett

Tobias Smollett [Le Sage]

Published by J. Walker, London, in 1818.

In stock



The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane. Printed for J. Walker, London, in 1818. Translated by T. Smollett, M.D. Two Volumes, translated from the French of Le Sage [Lesage]. Three-quarter navy leather with blue and gold marbled boards, raised banded spine with gilt decoration. Rubbing of boards on both volumes. Ex libris bookplate J.E. Gale. Marbled endpapers. Some foxing, toning. Pencil and ink names at flyleaves.

The Adventures of Gil Blas, originally penned by Alain-René Lesage (1668-1747) and later translated into English by Tobias Smollett (1721-1771), stands as a pivotal work in the development of the picaresque novel. Smollett’s translation, first published in 1748, not only introduced English readers to the vibrant escapades of the cunning hero, Gil Blas, but also showcased Smollett’s linguistic prowess and narrative skill.

A picaresque novel is a genre of prose fiction that depicts the adventures of a roguish, but appealing, protagonist, typically of low social class, who lives by their wits in a corrupt society. The term “picaresque” comes from the Spanish word “pícaro,” meaning “rogue” or “rascal.” These novels are characterized by their episodic structure, where the story unfolds through a series of loosely connected episodes or adventures. The protagonist, often called the “picaro,” is usually an outsider who moves from one social setting to another, offering satirical commentary on the society they encounter. The narrative is typically realistic in its portrayal of the various social classes and the hardships faced by the lower echelons of society.

Lesage was a French novelist and playwright, best known for The Devil Upon Two Sticks, a comic novel, Turcaret, a comedy, and Gil Blas, a picaresque novel.

Smollett was a Scottish novelist, playwright, critic, and also a surgeon. The Dickens character, David Copperfield, references Smollett’s works among his favorites, and the 1984 and Animal Farm author, George Orwell, praised Smollett as “Scotland’s best novelist”.


Published by: S. Hamilton

Location published: Weybridge, Surrey

Year published: 1818


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