By: Tobias Smollett (1721-1771)
I am Roderick Random. This is the contemporary story of my struggle against the adversity of orphan-hood, poverty, press gangs, bloody duels, rival fortune hunters, and the challenge to be well-dressed through it all. In the course of recounting my adventures to you, dear reader, I will give you a front row seat to the characters of English eighteenth century life including highway robbers, womanizing monks, debt-laden gallants, lecherous corrupt officials, effeminate sea captains, bloodthirsty surgeons, and my dear friend Miss Williams, a reformed prostitute. Educated in the classics, armed with a confident conscientious attitude and my long-suffering sidekick, Strap, I fight the good fight staying, on the whole, morally upstanding throughout. Today, if there be such a thing as true happiness on earth, I enjoy it -- and without having spent a fortune on college either. After hearing me out, I expect you'll be as wonderfully transported as one dear wealthy gentleman who listened to my whole story and then blessed God for the adversity I had undergone, which, he said, enlarged the understanding, improved the heart, steeled the constitution, and qualified a young man for all the duties and enjoyments of life much better than any education which affluence could bestow.