Citation: Budge , G & Vasset , S (ed.) 2013 , Smollett and the Novel of Irritability . in S Vasset (ed.) , Medicine and Narration in the Eighteenth Century . SVEC , vol. 2013:04 , Voltaire Foundation , Oxford , pp. 139-159 .
The problematic nature of Smollett’s narrative mode has been a central focus of critical debate about his novels. This article proposes that the discontinuity of Smollettian narrative can be usefully understood in the context of the role played by the medical concept of irritability within the paradigm of the mind as actively constructing sense experience, which is put forward by philosophers of the Common Sense School. This allows the thematics of irritability within Smollett’s novels to be understood as continuous with a more general epistemological emphasis on the discontinuities between ultimate principles, in a way which, the article suggests, is also characteristic of Romanticism.