For most modern readers, Tobias Smollett’s novels are defined by violence and crude physical humor, both of which contribute to angry satire on society’s vices. By drawing attention to eighteenth-century illustrations in Smollett’s novels, I want to suggest that illustrators were engaged in their own interpretations of Smollett. Their images often criticize the texts they illustrate, and the readings they generate are alternative interpretive possibilities that the illustrators presumably deemed valid. While some of the passages chosen for illustration contribute to Smollett’s grumpy attack upon humankind, many other kinds of scenes, such as sentimental or gently humorous ones, were also illustrated. In this article, I propose that paying attention to what these illustrators thought important will open up new ways of approaching these texts.

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