ABSTRACT

Tobias Smollett’s works accord a high prominence to interpolated narratives of various kinds, and these are often given special revelatory significance. This is especially the case in the two female narratives in Roderick Random and Peregrine Pickle, namely “Miss Williams’ Tale” and “The Memoirs of a Lady of Quality,” respectively. This paper focuses primarily on these two narratives, and, in comparing contents and narrators, it attempts to explain their contested positions in terms of a timely engagement with contemporaneous developments concerning norms of self-governance and self-censorship, particularly for women. Where the main narratives of Smollett’s two novels can be seen as conventional in terms of form, attitudes, and content, this paper argues that these interpolations are radically focused on giving a minority report on British society in the eighteenth century from the perspectives of women of very different classes and characters. They go beyond conventional romantic literature, and, in illuminating an area of society by turns isolated and reduced, display a nascent liberal feminism in their point of view. 

KEYWORDS: Smollett, interpolated narrative, romance, minority report