Translated by B.H
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. There were many subsequent
translations – ours, by B.H. Malkin, is from 1809. We are grateful
to K.T. Schwarz for pointing this out to us.
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 will be rekindled. It is a
super read in any case, and I am sure you will enjoy it.
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