Poems, Plays, and "The Briton"
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Poems, Plays, and "The Briton"

Title Details

Pages: 592

Illustrations: 15 b&w illus.

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 01/15/2014

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4609-0

List Price: $51.95


Pub Date: 11/01/1993

ISBN: 9-780-8203-1428-0

List Price: $120.95

Related Subjects

FICTION / Classics

Poems, Plays, and "The Briton"

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  • Description

The poems, plays, and political writings included in this volume are essential to an understanding of Tobias Smollett and the literary and social currents of eighteenth-century England. In introductions to the separate sections of the volume, Byron Gassman identifies the circumstances that prompted Smollett to undertake these writings, traces the history of their publication and reception, and provides extensive explanations of historical and literary allusions.

The poems in the volume represent Smollett's entire achievement as a poet. Among the shorter poems are "A New Song," his first printed work; "The Tears of Scotland," an early expression of his defiant spirit; and the popular "Ode to Independence," written during the last decade of his life. Two longer works, "Advice" (1746) and its sequel, "Reproof" (1747), are satires written in Popean heroic couplets; they mark the beginnings of Smollett's attacks on theater managers, corrupt politicians, iniquitous military leaders, and other well-known personalities of the day. An appendix to this volume includes five additional poems assigned but not definitely attributed to Smollett.

The Reprisal; or The Tars of Old England and The Regicide are the only extant plays by Smollett. The Regicide, written when the author was only eighteen or nineteen, dramatizes the story of the murder of James I of Scotland. The Reprisal, a patriotic comedy performed as an afterpiece at the Theatre Royal, was a moderate theatrical success.

Smollett's political writings for The Briton, a weekly journal he established in 1762 for defending the policies of the Earl of Bute, mark a particularly painful period in the author's life. A paper war erupted with the first number, and Smollett and Bute became the objects of scathing counterattacks, particularly in the writings of John Wilkes. This volume brings together for the first time all issues of The Briton and also includes a key identifying the weekly's numerous elliptical references to persons and places.

About the Author/Editor

Tobias Smollett (Author)
TOBIAS SMOLLETT (1721–1771) was a novelist, playwright, journalist, historian, travel writer, critic, translator, editor, and compiler—an eighteenth-century man of letters in the fullest sense of the phrase.

O M Brack Jr. (Editor)
O M BRACK, JR., a professor of English literature emeritus at Arizona State University, is coauthor of Samuel Johnson's Early Biographers and coeditor of The Early Biographies of Samuel Johnson. He has edited volumes of the Works of Samuel Johnson published by Yale and is textual editor for the Georgia series the Works of Tobias Smollett. Brack is the curator of the 2009 Johnson tercentenary exhibition at the Huntington Library.

Leslie A. Chilton (Editor)
LESLIE A. CHILTON is a faculty associate in English at Arizona State University.