The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, by Tobias Smollett, Limited Editions Club (1935)

Tobias Smollett (1721-1771) was a once famous Scottish author who has largely faded from the Western Canon. His most famous work was The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, a fictional novel published in 1751 that falls in the ‘picaresque‘ sub-genre, being a satirical set of adventures of an egotistical lower class ‘anti-hero’ who gets by with wits and chance fortune within corrupt 18th century European society (which is shown as greedy and cruel, or as Thomas Hobbes would say “poor, nasty, brutish and short”). Smollet is also known for translations of Alain-Rene Le Sage‘s The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane (The Limited Editions Club version of which will be reviewed soon on Books and Vines) and Miguel de Cervantes‘s Don Quixote. Smollet is said to have had some influence on Charles Dickens.

Smollet may have fallen off the radar of modern readers, but his work is immortalized in this very nice edition of The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle from the Limited Editions Club (LEC) from 1935. An introduction from the great G.K. Chesterton is a reason in itself to own this edition, but throw in the numerous color illustration from the great English book illustrator John Austen (who illustrated six LEC’s) and you have the makings of a very desirable edition. Just be sure to have a lot of room on one’s bookshelf as this edition eats a lot of space!

About the Edition

  • Introduction by G.K. Chesterton
  • Illustrated with color drawings by John Austen
  • Designed, printed and bound by John Johnson at the Oxford University Press, England
  • Set in monotype Bell on William Nash special paper
  • Bound in full green linen, gold stamped
  • Two volumes, 866 pages, 7 1/2″ x 11 3/8″
  • Limited to 1500 copies, signed by Austen

Pictures

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{Ed. Note: Apologies for some pictures being a bit out of focus; these pictures were taken at a book store (Book Gallery in Phoenix), not at my controlled picture taking environment.}

The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Slipcase Spine
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Books with dustcovers in slipcase
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Dustcovers
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Book Cover and Spine
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Spine
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Side View
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, End Papers
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Frontispiece and Title Page for Volume 1
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Title Page
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #1 with Text (Introduction)
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #2 with Vol.1 Contents
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustrations #3 with Vol.1 List of Illustrations
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #4 with Text
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Frontispiece and Title Page for Volume 2
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #5 and Vol.2 Contents
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #6 and Vol.2 List of Illustrations
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Text
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #7 with Text
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #8 with Text
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Colophon
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Signature

6 thoughts on “The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, by Tobias Smollett, Limited Editions Club (1935)

  1. This is one of the most beautiful LECs ever, as Delphic Oracle has said. I don’t find it unreadable myself, but I am a fan of Smollet’s style, so that carries the day in the end. My only regret is that the production team who made it chose this particular work over The Expedition of Humphy Clinker, a masterpiece of comedy and blessed with the mellowing acceptance of Life that sometimes comes to satirists in their later years. I have, since I read Humphry in grad school, come to regard it on the same level with Tom Jones and Tristram Shandy as the triumvirate of great 18th century comic novels. Although I enjoy Pergrine Pickle and the even more savage Roderick Random, I can’t really recommend them to the non-specialist, but Humphry Clinker is a great pleasure.

  2. I have good news and I have bad news.

    First, the good news: This is one of the most beautifully crafted LEC editions from the George Macy era and John Austen’s magnificent illustrations are alone worth the price of admission.

    Now the bad news: The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle is thoroughly unreadable and its present-day obscurity is richly deserved. The “hero” (anti-hero is perhaps a more appropriate word) Peregrine Pickle is, for 90% of the book, one of the most thoroughly obnoxious and unsympathetic characters in classic literature. Additional, Smollett’s scathing satire has a distinctly British tone and feel and this book does not travel well across the Atlantic. And, as an be seen from the gargantuan size of this two volume set, this novel is W-A-A-A-A-Y too long. The satirical points would have carried greater weight and would have been sharper if the book were half as long. This book, unfortunately, can be group alongside the works of Edmund Spenser (e.g., the Faerie Queen, The Shephearde’s Calendar, etc.) —– classic works of English literature that 99.99% of us will never read in its entirety.

  3. This book was one of the first books I bought over the internet. It arrived in two boxes: In one box were the covers, in another were the two texts. After much arguing back and forth, I threatened to sue which might stop his selling in Ohio.I sent back these catastrophes, and finally got a refund. Later I bought a pristine copy for less than the first sent me.

    I couldn’t believe the rationale of the first seller: If the covers and text were in Fine condition, what did it matter that they were unattached.

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