The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom

Tobias Smollett
Introduction and notes by Jerry C. Beasley
Text edited by O M Brack Jr.


"The appearance of the first volume of a major scholarly edition of the works of Tobias Smollett is an important event. . . . If the other editors of separate volumes in the series but match Beasley's work with Fathom, the whole project has been well worth the long wait. He has done a superb job. The introduction defines the place of this novel in Smollett's whole career. Also Beasley develops arguments that Fathom was a notable experiment in fiction, 'a serious and unblushing representation of remorseless (at least until the end) villainy,' and that the work represents an attempt to discover a way of presenting the relation between fiction and real life. Beasley's notes, more comprehensive than any ever offered before, are especially illuminating as identifications of literary allusions and historical references. No major research library can afford to pass over this volume. Indeed, all major libraries will want to subscribe to the entire edition. Most highly recommended."

"The appearance of Ferdinand Count Fathom is a cause for great celebration. . . . [Beasley’s] detailed and stylish introduction places this neglected novel (so clearly the ancestor of Thackeray’s Barry Lyndon) in the various contexts of Smollett’s career, the eighteenth-century literary scene, and the tradition of the novel. His textual notes are comprehensive, reliable, and exact. . . . It is impossible to imagine anything superseding it for many years to come."
Eighteenth-Century Scotland

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The first novel by a major English writer that is devoted to a thoroughgoing portrait of villainy, The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom chronicles the life of an aberrant criminal character. Filled with striking satiric thrusts at the legal, medical, and military establishments of mid-eighteenth-century Europe and England, the novel reveals Tobias Smollett's capacities as a commentator on contemporary life.

First published in 1753, Ferdinand Count Fathom is an experimental work that explores the relations between history and fiction and introduces, for the first time in the English novel, episodes of Gothic melodrama. Too long neglected and never before available in a carefully prepared scholarly edition, Ferdinand Count Fathom may now be read, understood, and appreciated against the literary and historical background of the eighteenth-century world.

Works of Tobias Smollett

Page count: 528 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


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Novelist, playwright, journalist, historian, travel writer, critic, translator, editor, and compiler, Tobias Smollett (1721–1771) was an eighteenth-century man of letters in the fullest sense of the phrase. Though his writings have been variously gathered together over the last two centuries, no definitive scholarly edition of Smollett's works has ever been published. The Georgia edition, though not a complete collection, includes all of those writings by which Smollett was best known in his own time and by which he is best remembered in ours. Prepared by a distinguished group of scholars, the edition conforms to the highest standards of excellence in historical and textual scholarship. Each volume provides an authoritative text, a substantial historical and critical introduction, and extensive explanatory notes.