Short summary - The Expedition of Humphry Clinker - Tobias Smollett

British literature summaries -

Short summary - The Expedition of Humphry Clinker
Tobias Smollett

Humphrey Clinker's Journey is the last work of an English writer: the novel was published a few months before his death in Livorno, where Smollet voluntarily went into a kind of «exile». The novel is written in an epistolary style, which was not an innovation for English literature; many Richardson's novels are written in this style. The novelty, one might say, Smollet’s innovation is different: the same events, seen through the eyes of different people, with different views, belonging to very different estates, varying in level of culture, finally, by age, appear on the pages of these letters served very in different ways, sometimes very polar. And above all, it is precisely what strikes the novel: the amazing dissonance, Smollet’s ability to convey not only the difference in style, language, but also the complete dissimilarity of perception of life, level of thinking. His heroes are revealed in their messages with such a human peculiarity, so unexpected and paradoxical that one can rightly speak about the true virtuosity of Smollet - a psychologist, stylist, philosopher. The letters of his characters fully confirm the thesis: style is a person.


Smollet always, as befits a "classic novel", reveals several layers. The plot is often replete with all sorts of branches, waste from the chronological presentation, the purpose of which for the author is to fully present the picture of the era. The novel can literally be called the "encyclopedia of British life." Being in the genre primarily a wandering romance, whose heroes cross the whole of Great Britain, it is a kaleidoscope of events, a string of destinies, pictures of the capital’s life, life «on the waters» in Bath, the quiet existence of provincial towns and the English nature, all kinds of entertainments of different walks of life , sketches of court morals and, of course, features of the literary and theatrical environment and much, much more.

The protagonist of the novel is not at all indicated in the title of Humphrey Clinker (it appears on the pages when a third of the story is already behind), and Matthew Bramble, an elderly bachelor, gout and misanthrope, is a man with all his gall (usually, however, absolutely justified) generous, disinterested and noble, in a word, a true gentleman; as his nephew Jerry Melford speaks of him, "by his generosity is a genuine Don Quixote." In this image, Smollet’s cuter ego is undoubtedly read, and it’s Bramble who expresses the views closest to the author - on the state of minds, on the development of civilization, it should be noted that they are very accurate, accurate and, most importantly, completely outdated. So, in a letter to his permanent addressee Dr. Lewis (and it should be noted that each of the characters has his own permanent correspondent,


However, with all the observation and insight, with all the causticity of Smollet (Swift’s traditions are palpable in his novel, as well as in many other books written by contemporaries), he still tries everything that he hates (because he hates that he knows too well and not from other people's words), to contrast a certain idyll, a certain utopia. Such an Arcadia, alluring, but obviously unattainable, is the estate of Bramble Brambleton Hall, about which we learn from the letters so many all kinds of miracles, but where the heroes of the story never get.

However, in the process of their journey, they truly know the world, discover the nature of people, the uniqueness of morals. As always, on their way they meet a lot of colorful personalities: the "noble robber" Martin, an old soldier, all wounded and hacked, Lieutenant Lismahago. He is a Scotsman by nationality - which is the reason for numerous discussions regarding England and Scotland (the heroes at this moment are just passing through Scotland). Such a persistent return to the national theme was undoubtedly affected by the Scottish origin of Smollet himself, which was very tangible to him during his first steps in London, and the consequences of this origin, of course, were not reflected in the best way. However, in the interpretation of Scotland that is embedded in the novel in the mouth of Bramble, along with true observations, there is naivety, and the obvious idealization of traditions, the national foundations of the Scots, for example, is opposed to Scottish moral purity by the general depravity of the British, about the peculiarities of the inhabitants of the capital - London, their loss of their roots. Lieutenant Lismahago is not only a participant in the discussion, but also, one might say, the spring of one of the storylines: it is he who ultimately becomes the chosen one and husband of Bramble's sister Tabitha, a grumpy old maiden who during the novel gives her participants a lot of trouble and trouble.

Let us return to the hero of the novel, whose name appears in the title. While traveling on the goats of the carriage in which Mr. Bramble is sitting, his sister Miss Tabitha, as well as the maid Jenkins, holding the greatest jewel on her lap on a special pillow - Miss Tabitha’s beloved dog, «the crappy dog» Chowder, by chance turns out to be an unfamiliar young man, by mind - a real ragger. His name is Humphrey Clinker. Later it turns out that he was illegitimate, a foundling, was brought up in a shelter (paraphrase of the fielding «Tom Jones, Foundling», but the paraphrase is clearly a parody, which affects both the description of Humphrey's appearance, the list of his «skills», and everything else). The magnanimous Bramble, seeing that the young man is left to the mercy of fate, hires him to his service. He shows sincere zeal of a rather idiotic quality, why all the time gets into ridiculous situations. However, upon arriving in Humphrey to London, completely different talents are unexpectedly discovered: he turns out to be a wonderful ... preacher, who can bewitch both the ordinary people and quite distinguished persons. A footman reading a sermon to the duchesses - this Bramble can not tolerate. He is ready to expel Humphrey: «Either you are a hypocrite and a rogue, or you are obsessed, and your brains are damaged!» Meanwhile, Humphrey is more «obsessed», or rather, a holy fool, with tears confesses to the owner that the «devout» made him this way. "The hypocrite of Lady Briskin, who convinced him that" the spirit had descended upon him. " After ascertaining that Humphrey is not «rogue,» Bramble leaves him in his house. «If there was pretense or hypocrisy in such excessive piety, I would not keep him in the service, but, as far as I could see, this small one is simplicity itself, inflamed by frenzy, and thanks to its simplicity it is able to be faithful and affectionate for its benefactors, »says Bramble in his letter to Dr. Lewis. However, a little later, irritated by Humphrey's impassable idiocy, Bramble expresses the exact opposite proposition: "Stupidity often infuriates more than cheating, and does more harm." However, at the decisive moment when the carriage with Bramble and his household, crossing the stormy river, turns over and everything, including Bramble, ends up in the water, it is Humphrey who saves his master. And already closer to the finale of the novel, by the will of fate, it suddenly opens up that Humphrey Clinker's father is none other than Bramble himself - the "sins of youth." And Bramble speaks of a well-received son: «This rogue is a wild apple tree that I planted myself ... What is the point? Humphrey Clinker's simple-heartedness, often reaching idiocy, outright foolishness (harmless only because Humphrey does not pursue any evil goals consciously), is a continuation of Bramble’s quixotic, intelligent, subtle, noble feelings and aspirations, who understands everything, knows everything about price. ..

The second happy marriage that crowns the finale of the novel is the wedding of Humphrey Clinker (henceforth Matthew Lloyd) and the maid Winifred Jenkins: having loved her as a servant, Humphrey does not change her and now, becoming a "master". Commendable!

And the third happy union is connected with another story, mentioned throughout the novel: the story of Bramble’s niece, Jerry Melford’s sister, Lydia. While still at Oxford boarding school, she met a young man named Wilson, whom she passionately fell in love with. But - he is an actor, a "comedian", and therefore - "not a couple." With a certain shadow, he goes through the whole story, so that in the end he will turn out to be not an actor, but a nobleman, and even the son of Bramble’s old friend Mr. Dennison, according to Jerry Melford, «one of the most perfect young men in England».


So - with a triple idyll - this ending is by no means idyllic, but rather a very bitter and very sober novel. As usual, Smollett brought out a lot of real historical figures in him: the actor James Queen, whose attitude to the time that has passed since the creation of The Adventures of Perigrin Pickle has changed; famous politicians described with undisguised sarcasm and mockery; and even himself, under the name of "writer S." He describes with pleasure the reception in his own house for all kinds of «composers»: gall, disgusting, mediocre subjects, assiduously, «out of gratitude», reproaching their benefactor. «They all have one reason - envy,» commented Jerry Melford's friend Dick on this phenomenon. Smollett describes what was better known to him than anything else: the life and customs of literary day-care, all kinds of writers writing dirty denunciations against each other, although they themselves are not worth a penny. But the conclusion that Jerry comes to the final is quite bitter, it also reflected the knowledge and experience of Smollet himself: «I have devoted so much space to the writers that you may suspect that I am going to join this fraternity; however, even if I was capable of this profession, it is the most hopeless remedy against starvation, because it does not allow me to put aside anything for old age or in case of illness. In conclusion, however, Jerry writes about the writers: "a wonderful breed of mortals, whose morals ... very exciting curiosity." And in these words also undoubtedly we recognize the voice of Smollet himself. bitter enough, it also reflected the knowledge and experience of Smollet himself: «I have devoted so much space to the writers that you may suspect that I am going to join this fraternity; however, even if I was capable of this profession, it is the most hopeless remedy against starvation, because it does not allow me to put aside anything in reserve for old age or in case of illness. » In conclusion, however, Jerry writes about the writers: "a wonderful breed of mortals, whose morals ... very exciting curiosity." And in these words also undoubtedly we recognize the voice of Smollet himself. bitter enough, it also reflected the knowledge and experience of Smollet himself: «I have devoted so much space to the writers that you may suspect that I am going to join this fraternity; however, even if I was capable of this profession, it is the most hopeless remedy against starvation, because it does not allow me to put aside anything in reserve for old age or in case of illness. » In conclusion, however, Jerry writes about the writers: "a wonderful breed of mortals, whose morals ... very exciting curiosity." And in these words also undoubtedly we recognize the voice of Smollet himself. for it doesn’t allow you to set aside a reserve for old age or in case of illness. » In conclusion, however, Jerry writes about the writers: "a wonderful breed of mortals, whose morals ... very exciting curiosity." And in these words also undoubtedly we recognize the voice of Smollet himself. for it doesn’t allow you to set aside a reserve for old age or in case of illness. » In conclusion, however, Jerry writes about the writers: "a wonderful breed of mortals, whose morals ... very exciting curiosity." And in these words also undoubtedly we recognize the voice of Smollet himself.