The History and Adventures of an Atom

The History and Adventures of an Atom

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In "The History and Adventures of an Atom', a London haberdasher relates extraordinary tales of ancient Japan as dictated to him by an omniscient atom that has lived within the bodies of great figures of state. Intended "for the instruction of the British ministers", the work is a savage allegory of England during the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), draping kings and politicians, domestic and foreign affairs in an intricately detailed, endlessly allusive veil of satire. Its commentary laced with vitriol, this book combines the concerns of the author's historical and political writings with the often fantastic expression of a mind unleashed in the world of fiction. Creating from the details of Japanese history an ingenious catalogue of English places and personalities - from the upstart ruler "Taycho", whose graspings for power resemble William Pitt's, to a god of war called "Fatzman" who suggests the grotesquely obese Duke of Cumberland - Smollett also draws on the imagery of the period's scurrilous political cartoons. In addition to presenting portraits of George II, George III, and their cabinets and chronicling the rise and fall of Pitt, Newcastle and Bute, the Atom reports on events in the American colonies, battles in the Continental and global wars, and the domestic crises of 1763-1765. Smollett criticizes the moneyed interests of London and the clamorous voice of the underclass "mob"; ridicules George II's disastrous support of Frederick the Great's costly military campaigns; and expresses the prophetic fear that Great Britain, extending its possessions too far, might sink under its own weight. Edited and introduced by Robert Adams Day, this edition provides prepared text, historical annotations and an key to personages and places. Day establishes the authorship of the long-disputed work, placing it within the context of Smollett's writings and opinions, his times and literary world.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 456 pages
  • 158.75 x 241.3 x 38.1mm | 839.14g
  • University of Georgia Press
  • Georgia, United States
  • English, Multiple languages
  • Illustrations, facsims.
  • 0820310735
  • 9780820310732
  • 2,164,323

Review quote

At last a definitive, scholarly edition, the first to appear since 1926, of Smollett's most puzzling and controversial work. It is a satire in the tradition of Rabelais and Swift, particularly in respect to its scatological images. This carefully prepared edition, with all of the appropriate textual apparatus, includes extensive historical and literary references and an accurate key, in alphabetical order, to personages and places that are presented in the text as Japanese names and based on a collation of existing keys. In the introduction, Day presents general information about the political structure of England during Smollett's time; a most useful review of the major events of the Seven Years' War; a summary of some of Smollett's political opinions; helpful information concerning the work's sources, literary influences, publication, and reception; and incontrovertible proof for Smollett's authorship. A chronology of dates and events relevant to Atom in relation to Smollett's life; superb illustrations (much imagery is in reference to political cartoons of the day); excellent index. Highly recommended.--Choiceshow more

About Tobias Smollett

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.show more

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