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Adventures of Roderick Random

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By: (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.

First Page:

THE ADVENTURES OF RODERICK RANDOM

By Tobias Smollett

THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE

Of all kinds of satire, there is none so entertaining and universally improving, as that which is introduced, as it were occasionally, in the course of an interesting story, which brings every incident home to life, and by representing familiar scenes in an uncommon and amusing point of view, invests them with all the graces of novelty, while nature is appealed to in every particular. The reader gratifies his curiosity in pursuing the adventures of a person in whose favour he is prepossessed; he espouses his cause, he sympathises with him in his distress, his indignation is heated against the authors of his calamity: the humane passions are inflamed; the contrast between dejected virtue and insulting vice appears with greater aggravation, and every impression having a double force on the imagination, the memory retains the circumstance, and the heart improves by the example. The attention is not tired with a bare catalogue of characters, but agreeably diverted with all the variety of invention; and the vicissitudes of life appear in their peculiar circumstances, opening an ample field for wit and humour... Continue reading book >>


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