Gil Blas by Alain-Rene LeSage.

Gil Blas was written in French between 1700 and 1730 by Alain-Rene LeSage. Although nominally set in Spain, it is in fact French through and through. The picaresque adventures of its hero are described from naive youth through cunning servant to landed proprietor and nobleman -- with a spell in jail, bereavements and fits of remorse along the way. It was an immense hit on publication, and was translated into most European languages. The version by Tobias Smollet was the first in English and one of the best, although rather free in parts. Its influence on Smollett's own work is clear (Roderick Random, Peregrine Pickle); Fielding (Tom Jones) and Dickens (Nicholas Nickleby) were also heavily influenced by it or its numerous imitators.

It is astonishing that so well-known and influential a book should have been allowed to go out of print. We hope that by making it available here interest willl be rekindled. It is a super read in any case, and I am sure you will enjoy it.

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