Tobias Smollett

Travels in France and Italy

Tremendously enjoying this cantankerous book of travel letters by the 18th century satirist Tobias Smollett.

It is full of knitty-gritty details about the commerce and governance of the kingdom, and pithy uncompromising portraits of the people he meets on his travels.

Smollett seems genuinely bemused that the French can actually believe they are a superior nation to the English, and writes amusingly about the short-comings of the accommodation, food and even the wine that he tries on the way. 

There’s very little about sight-seeing. Smollett is obsessed with prices, the quality of goods, the cost of transporting his effects, and the various scams that are used to extort money from travellers. I am loving it!


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