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Tobias Smollett (1721-1771) was a Scottish poet and author. He was born in Dalquhurn as the son of a judge and land-owner. He studied at the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh and began a career in medicine.After the unsuccessful start of his literary efforts, he travelled as a naval surgeon to Jamaica. After several years he returned to London and in 1748 published his first successful literary work, the picaresque novel The adventures of Roderick Random (1748), inspired by Histoire de Gil Blas de Santillana by Lesage. Other successful novels were The adventures of Peregrine Pickle (1751), and The adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom (1753). He published a translation of Cervantes’ Don Quijote in 1755 and became editor of The critical review. His later works include A complete history of England (1757-1765) and History and adventures of an atom (1769), joining the popular trend of magically perceptive objects.

The fragments:

Smollett’s novels belong to the trend in which motifs, structures and narrative strategies of the Thousand and one nights were incorporated into European literature. This influence is sometimes visible not in forms of exoticism, but rather in structure and form. Smollett’s picaresque works are probably influenced in this way in their literary techniques, as were, for instance, the novels of Lesage. Smollett also wrote, or contributed to, a collection of Oriental tales titled The Orientalist: or tales after the Eastern taste, which appeared in 1764. The work contains a number of brief tales after the fashion of the Thousand and one nights, according to the orientalist vogue of the day. Their purport is rather trivial, and they have not been systematically studied. It seems that the author used the Bibliothèque orientale by d’Herbelot as a source for historical figures and other narrative material.



Martha Pike Conant, The Oriental tale in England in the eighteenth century, Octagon Books, New York 1966.

Srinivas Aravamudan, Enlightenment orientalism; resisting the rise of the novel, University of Chicago Press, Chicago/ London 2012.

Jeremy Lewis, Tobias Smollett, Cape, London 2003.

Georges Rousseau, Tobias Smollett: essays of two decades, T&T Clark, Edinburgh 1982.

Weblinks:,+T.+(Tobias) (Project Gutenberg) (Internet Archive) (Libri Vox) (Online editions)