No One Description Will Fit This Strange, Eccentric, Endlessly Complex Masterpiece It Is A Fiction About Fiction Writing In Which The Invented World Is As Much Infused With Wit And Genius As The Theme Of Inventing It It Is A Joyful Celebration Of The Infinite Possibilities Of The Art Of Fiction, And A Wry Demonstration Of Its Limitations This Penguin Classic Contains Christopher Ricks S Introductory Essay, Itself A Classic Of English Literary Criticism, Together With A New Introduction On The Recent Critical History And Influence Of Tristram Shandy By Melvyn New The Text And Notes Are Based On The Acclaimed Florida Edition, Making The Scholarship Of The Florida Editors Readily Available For The First Time

10 thoughts on “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

  1. says:

    Before I start my review of this delightful classic, I have to tell you a short anecdote from my teaching life But don t worry, it is not really a digression at all, as it is leading directly to the essence of this novel It actually has relevance for Tristram Shandy than many of the anecdotes Tristram himself tells in his story If it is a digression, which I formally dispute, partly because you can t really digress before you have begun, and partly because it is crucial for the review s essential development , BUT IF it should be considered a digression by the harsh standards of formal review guidelines and rules , it certainly is of the noble Tristram kind known as a progressive digression.It is also quite modest and unpretentious, as it won t need any footnotes, and it won t come with Latin quotes either, or with omitted or ripped out chapters It will simply be a short introductory tale setting the stage for the review to come Here it is then, without any further announcement Anecdote leading to the formal beginning of the review I used to teach a very peculiar class for a couple of years They were known throughout the school for their lively interest in everything and for their almost inexhaustible talent for digression Whatever you set out to teach them, they took over and formed a lesson of their own according to their curiosity and enthusiasm You had to prepare for their classes in exactly the opposite way compared to all other groups In other lessons, you were trying your best to stimulate interest and to engage in interactive discussions to keep the students remotely awake, but with this set of adolescents you had to plan some deliberately, excruciatingly boring elements in order to curb their energies, and to guide them towards some kind of focus They had so many questions to ask, so many anecdotes to tell, so many viewpoints to argue, that you simply did not get to finish a single chapter in the history book on time That, of course, is inconvenient as you can t postpone the assessment of the Grade 8 curriculum to Grade 10.One day, when I was particularly tired it was the last period in the afternoon I lost control of their discussion Whoever has taught a lively class knows what I am talking about You realise all of a sudden that you are completely off topic, that there are centuries of history to wade through to get back to the starting point, and that the class machine is running full speed towards the edge of reason All hands were up, everyone wanted to share opinions and life stories, and I wanted to wrap up and go home What to do Slowly, steadily I started to take over the conductor job again, to guide the diverse contributions towards my goal, to rein in the cacophony of voices We were just about to reestablish order and to close the chapter of the initial digression that had got the unruly crowd started, when one boy raised his hand and threw in another random thought, pointing straight towards new chaos I finally lost my only superficially kept temper and yelled STOP DIGRESSING FROM THE DIGRESSION From then on, that became a standard saying in the class, a sure card to play to get them to laugh Little did I know that they were complete amateurs, compared to the master Tristram Shandy While my class just managed to make the analysis of the effects of crop rotation in the Industrial Revolution turn into something as closely related as revolutionary pop songs in the 21st century, Tristram manages to fill 8.5 hours of audiobook time to get born, while eagerly discussing his own nose, noses in general, his Uncle Toby, and the different dogmas of Protestants and Catholics, and several other important topics, including his name and the line of beauty and Don Quixote etc etc etc and I promise you that those enigmatic etc fill several hundred pages.He accurately calculates that he won t be able to finish the account of his life and opinions, as he is spending so much time on a couple of hours that he consistently accumulates years of backlog in his narrative It runs in the family, as his father set out to write a pedagogical work for him, the Tristopaedia, which never caught up with the growing boy While we glimpse quite a lot of Tristram s family, their lives and their opinions, he is rather mum about his own person, always finding important topics to talk about Closing the novel, I know about the mortality of Trim s hat and about the amours of Uncle Toby than about Tristram himself But that doesn t really matter, for most of all, I know that the modern novel has some work to do to catch up with this experimental classic What a pure joy to see the narrator tear the body of the novel open and show the scaffold of it in its artificial randomness And what additional spice to get bits and pieces of Tristram s erudition, wit, and sense of humour Who needs a plot, anyway Isn t that artificial in the end than a long dialogue on the pleasures and pains of dividing a work into chapters Do I really need to know the details of a love story when the essence of love is rendered in alphabetical order instead Love is certainly, at least alphabetically speaking, one of the mostAgitatingBewitchingConfoundedDevilish affairs of life the mostExtravagantFutilitousGalligaskinishHandy dandyishIracundulous there is no K in it andLyrical of all human passions at the same time, the mostMisgivingNinnyhammeringObstipatingPragmaticalStridulousRidiculous though by the bye the R should have gone first As you can imagine, I could go on and on, from one thread to another, and still not be any closer to starting my review, so I will make a drastic decision, and urge you to let Tristram speak for himself instead there is no one like him to speak anyway Please read his digressions They are much amusing than I can adequately show you I strongly recommend the audio version, as it forced me to sit still and not digress from the text in the way I might have otherwise, had I had the slightest chance I recommend having a copy of the book next to you as well, as some pages are interesting in a visual than in an auditive, not to mention narrative, way To keep seated, I employed my hands with yarn as well, spinning my own threads into a warm poncho which will come in very handy when the teaching season starts again, as will my time with Tristram, for I can t imagine any lecture that could possibly prepare you better for the digressions of students than the life and opinions of Tristram Shandy A superb experiment of a novel, and a unique voice in world literature As for my review, I accidentally ripped it out of my Goodreads account and replaced it with this text instead Sometimes things like that happen, and the original review is in the literary ether together with the missing chapter in Tristram Shandy To tell the story of all those alternative texts, we would need the help of Borges and his Labyrinths But that is another story or two, or three

  2. says:

    Before I began this book Now don t climb on your hobby horse, or rather, don t pounce on your keyboard to tell me that I didn t actually begin this book, that it was Laurence Sterne who began this book than two hundred and fifty years ago, long before I was even a in my mothers s eye or an answering in my father s So, before I began reading this book, like many amongst you, I had preconceived ideas Yes, it is worth paying attention to the wording here because the Life and some of the Opinions of Tristram Shandy relate to a time even before the moment of his own But the Life and Opinions is still a good title, and the Opinions themselves, dating as they do from the 1760s, must have been preserved in the finest liquor to have retained such a freshness of spirit that you would think they had taken their first breath of Life a mere five minutes before Did I mention Time But yes, before I began reading Sterne, I had a sort of bias against this innocent book No, not innocent as to what happens between its covers, no, for it treats of everything in the world and doesn t mince its words in the telling, doesn t strut about like a turkey cock but rather talks turkey, as in gets straight to the But to go back to where I began, that period of time before I picked up Shandy and conceived the fancy No, not that kind of fancy Why is it that we humans are ever occupied by conceptions of a double meaning nature, as if words were not already weighty enough without adding Although generally, at least today, few of us seem capable of constructing sentences fortified with the kind of ravelins or outworks favoured by Tristram s uncle Toby and his trusty henchman Trim For you must accept, if you are to read Sterne that the work is a very well fortified construction, that every sentence contains at least two facets or aspects, and each aspect faces off at an angle as in goes in a different direction and therefore the time taken to read Did I mention Time, because the notion, the very conception of Time is very central to any coherent understanding of the relationship between the writing of this book and the reading of it And speaking of the reading, we mustn t underestimate the importance of the Opinions of the reader although not mentioned in the title, the Opinions of the reader are nevertheless The narrative, such as is, is interrupted by frequent digressions directed at the reader and when these asides are aimed in particular at the female reader, well Broadsides are not out of place to mention, in fact the terminology of the battlefield is used for even the most peaceful sounding conversations, not to speak of matters amatory And although seemingly random, the trajectory of the narrative is very precisely plotted between order and chaos, between sense and nonsense, between mysteries and riddles, between the spiritual and the natural, between abstract philosophy and practical wisdom, between noses and Since the writer, together with his appendages, is always present in his own writing, just as every man is present at the shaving of his own beard, Laurence Sterne may also be We can t but speculate that the subacid personality Sterne gives Tristram s father, a man who is pedantically obtuse and razor sharp at the same time, and the ridiculously cautious diplomacy he allows Tristram s mother though it is a clever and perfectly impenetrable protection against the father s razor wit, and blunts it nicely from time to time , plus the childlike humanity with which he endows Tristram s uncle Toby But it is the character of the parson Yorick, who, like his namesake in Hamlet, that fellow of such infinite jest , has a great appreciation of nonsense which he allies with a paradoxical impatience of folly and verbosity, and the whole may give us the truest picture of Laurence I m reminded of Joyce s Man in the Macintosh, the ghost like figure who flits in and out of Ulysses, and aren t there many such elusive raincoated men in Beckett too So yes, I think Sterne may well have inserted himself into his own novel via Yorick, his Jester of a parson But for this speculation, I have no proof, at least ready, so I will_that point unless some hypercritick reader of this review wants to to it.The last word I will allow to Sterne Therefore, my dear friend and companion reader , if you should think me somewhat sparing of my narrative on my first setting out, bear with me, and let me go on, and tell my story my own way or if I should seem now and then to trifle upon the road, or should sometimes put on a fool s cap with a bell to it, for a moment or two as we pass along, don t fly off, but rather courteously give me credit for a little wisdom than appears upon my outside and as we jog on, either laugh with me, or at me, or in short, do any thing, only keep your temper.

  3. says:

    I failed big time in reviewing this.Oh well.I tried mentioning Sterne s style and his humor I tried to include some of my favorite quotes and even show one of the cool drawings included And I tried stating how much I loved it.However, when I finished and read it, it didn t do the book any justice at all.So all that s left for me to do is tell you to go read it.Rating 5 starsThis is one of those books we encounter in life that, despite being completely enchanted and raptured chapter after chapter, yet we wonder whether it s even possible to properly communicate these feelings to your fellow book addicts using only words You, who is now reading this tentative review and who, unfortunately, have not yet heard much about The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, might about now be thinking that this is a profound, piercing read, that by making use of deep and emotional passages amazes us with its insights on life If that s what you looking for in a book, you won t get it here This is comedy Heavily influenced by Don Quixote and Cervantes and his humor, lightness and stand alone stories, Laurence Sterne was still able to be original and create a masterpiece of his own, taking the humor he found in the stories of the knight errant and his squire to a whole new level, gracefully and, I must say, obscenely although he was careful enough to thinly disguise it all in metaphors and many not that it avoided him any criticism While so influenced by another work, Tristram Shandy is still highly original and consequently inspired itself many writers with his style Some believe Sterne to have been the forerunner of many narrative devices used by authors such as James Joyce and Virginia Woolf Speaking of great writers, I should add that Leo Tolstoy named Sterne his favorite author.The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman was released in nine volumes throughout seven years Vols 1 2 in 1759 Vols 3 4 in 1761 Vols 5 6 in 1762 Vols 7 8 in 1765 and finally, Vol 9 in 1767 Luckily for us it is now just one volume divided by its chapters and subchapters The book, as its title suggests, aims to tell the story of Tristram Shandy he is writing his own biography Our Tristram, however, can t tell a story from beginning to end even if it meant to save his life He feels he has to go back in order to give us plenty of details and his own birth only happens in Vol 3 From that you can get an idea of what you re getting yourself into What these perplexities of my uncle Toby were, tis impossible for you to guess if you could, I should blush not as a relation, not as a man, nor even as a woman, but I should blush as an author inasmuch as I set no small store by myself upon this very account, that my reader has never yet been able to guess at anything And in this, Sir, I am of so nice and singular a humour, that if I thought you was able to form the least judgment or probable conjecture to yourself, of what was to come in the next page, I would tear it out of my book. Sterne himself, in the quote above, summarized perfectly what one should expect to find in his book or how one shouldn t expect anything as it s very unlikely that his inventive mind would be matched Mightily original in the events depicted on the book, he takes it even further with many different design features and digressions In the drawing below by the writer himself , he explains his narrative course in the first four volumes, swearing by us that the fifth would be finer but would you take his word for it Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine they are the life, the soul of reading take them out of this book, for instance, you might as well take the book along with them one cold eternal winter would reign in every page of it restore them to the writer he steps forth like a bridegroom, bids All hail brings in variety, and forbids the appetite to fail Speaking of digressions, while it might be extremely irritating for many who hoped for chronological progress and a steady narrative, to my taste, it was the highlight of this experience Not only because it was a lot of fun, but also because it felt close to home as it seemed like the way my grandmother tells her stories even the simplest event as I didn t sleep well at all last night comes with the physical description of her neighboor who also has trouble sleeping who has a brother that s a pharmacist insert his background life story here and his third degree relations with our family and how tonight she ll finally sleep as she ll not forget to take her pills which was the reason of her insomnia.By digressing so much, Tristram is merely following his train of thought, without making any effort to order those ideas for his reader s convenience Isn t that a simpler version of the stream of consciouness technique so hailed in the next centuries While the former device follows wherever the narrator mind takes him, but still describing the events in a logical order, the latter strips layers and simply exposes the very thought in a loose manner You must have a little patience I have undertaken, you see, to write not only my life, but my opinions also if you should think me somewhat sparing of my narrative on my first setting out bear with me, and let me go on, and tell my story my own way Or, if I should seem now and then to trifle upon the road, or should sometimes put on a fool s cap with a bell to it, for a moment or two as we pass along, don t fly off, but rather courteously 9 give me credit for a little wisdom than appears upon my outside and as we jog on, either laugh with me, or at me, or in short, do anything, only keep your temper So, I urge you do have patience with him He s worth it Film adaptation well, what do you know While I was reading the book I lamented that it was impossible to be filmed Turns out it wasn t A Cock and a Bull Story is a film within a film released in 2005 by bold director Michael Winterbottom that tells the story of two actors Steve Coogan and Rob Byrdon, playing themselves who are shooting an adaptation of Sterne s novel, but the film Tristram fails terribly just as the book is about a man attempting to write his autobiography but never really succeeding while at it for he can t properly tell his story without being distracted, the film is about an attempt at making a film Winterbottom was happy in the majority of his choices and unlike many film adaptations I ve watched, this one actually works.Review The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is one of those books I had heard about but never planned to actually read any time soon Luckily, I was tempted by a group read and found a copy of a rare Portuguese translation it s been out of print in Brazil for years at the last minute It s now absolutely one of my favorites 5 very assymetric stars.

  4. says:

    I would like to dedicate the following old review to a much missed GR friend, Bird Brian, who appears as a character in my review He provided us with many hours of free entertainment with his great rants against every possible aspect of capitalism and the American government But 50% of him left when bought GR, and the rest of him disappeared when the censorship controversy splurged all over our heads And now he is not here to excoriate all the bad people and discover all the conspiracies NICHOLAS PARSONS Welcome to Just A Minute THEME MUSIC NP Thank you, thank you, hello, my name is Nicholas Parsons And as the Minute Waltz fades away once it is my pleasure to welcome our many listeners, not only in this country but throughout the world But also to welcome to the show this week four highly talented and individual players of this game And once again they re going to show their invention, their verbal dexterity and their creative ingenuity as they speak on a subject that I give them for one minute, and they try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation And this week our four contestants are Manny Rayner, Bird Brian, Paul Bryant and Ian Graye Please welcome all four of them Applause And we start this week with Manny Rayner Manny, the subject is Tristram Shandy Tell us something about that Manny, without hesitation, repetition or deviation starting now MANNY This is a novel written between 1759 and 1765 BUZZZ NP And Bird Brian has challenged What is your challenge BB Repetition of seventeen.MR But that s part of the designation of the year 1953, 1954 NP A harsh challenge but I m going to have to agree with Brian so BB you have a point and you have the subject of Tristram Shandy and there are 56 seconds left.BB Ironically, given that Tristram Shandy is the epitome of deviation and digression, we here are supposed to discuss it without ourselves digressing if I remember rightly it has been filmed as A Cock and Bull Story which was directed by Michael Winterbottom who also did Welcome to Sarajevo BUZZ NP And Paul Bryant has challenged.PB Well, it was all getting so terribly dull I thought I d press this buzzer just to wake us up again.NP But what is your challenge Dullness is allowed in this panel game.PB Well he deviated by going on about Sarajevo I could see he was just trying to drag politics into it again.NP Well no, he only mentioned one other film, I don t think that was really deviating from the subject So Brian you have a point for an incorrect challenge and you continue with Tristram Shandy with 22 seconds left.BB Er BUZZ Ian Graye Hesitation.NP Oh definitely You have to keep going in this game, loquacity is the thing So Ian you have 21 seconds left with Tristram Shandy.IG This has got to be one of the most brilliant, funniest and Buzz NP Er who challenged there Manny MR Deviation I can t understand his accent.NP What MR He could be talking about anything , how would we know.NP Well, er, he does have an Australian accent, of course, but I thought he was perfectly comprehensible let s ask the audience Audience can you understand Ian Graye Audience Mooo PB It s hopeless asking that lot, they re just a lot of sheep.Audience Moo Mooo NP So Ian that was a wrong challenge, you have a point and the subject is back with you, 19 seconds left for Tristram Shandy.Ian Here is a novel that parodies many of the cliches of later novelists before they became Buzz PB Repetition.NP Repetition PB Yes, repetition of novel.Ian No, I said novel and novelist two different words, like wood and tree , or is your dictionary different to mine NP Yes, he did you know.BB Quite so.NP So, another point for another wrong challenge and you have the subject back, Ian, 13 seconds starting now.IG When I was Buzz MR Deviation he s talking about himself now, not Tristram Shandy.NP A very clever challenge So you get a point for that and the subject back with you, 11 seconds for Tristram Shandy.MR The full title is The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, which gives Lawrence Sterne ample leeway to throw a in lot of rabbiting about anything I haven t actually read this book Buzz NP And Paul Bryant has challenged.PB Deviation if he hasn t read it he can t say anything about it and ought to leave it to those of us who have NP Well that s er frankly ridiculous, I haven t climbed Mount Everest but I can talk about it, I know facts about Mount Everest PB Now you re deviating What s Mount Everest got to do with it NP But I m the chairman, I m allowed to repeat and hesitate and deviate I relish my deviant status.PB You re in cahoots with him Infamy, infamy, they ve all got it infamy NP Be that as it may, the subject is back with Manny and there are only three seconds left starting now.Manny I fully intend to read this wonderful volume at the earliest WHISTLENP And the sound of the whistle beautifully blown by our producer Samantha indicates the end of that strenuous round Manny gets a point for speaking as the whistle went, and I can now reveal that the situation is that he is our joint leader with Ian, Bird Brian is next, and Paul Bryant yet to score So we begin Round Two and the subject is Why I Am So Grumpy and Paul, you can begin with that, starting now.

  5. says:

    963 Tristram Shandy, Laurence SterneThe Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman or Tristram Shandy is a novel by Laurence Sterne It was published in nine volumes, the first two appearing in 1759, and seven others following over the next seven years vols 3 and 4, 1761 vols 5 and 6, 1762 vols 7 and 8, 1765 vol 9, 1767 2000 1378 1759 1378

  6. says:

    So many great discoveries were made absolutely unintentionally Christopher Columbus was sailing to India and unexpectedly discovered America without any slightest suspicions.Laurence Sterne was writing some obscure petty biography and unawares discovered postmodernism.But the most weird and paradoxical thing about it is that he discovered postmodernism long before the modernists managed to discover modernism.It had ever been the custom of the family, and by length of time was almost become a matter of common right, that the eldest son of it should have free ingress, egress, and regress into foreign parts before marriage, not only for the sake of bettering his own private parts, by the benefit of exercise and change of so much air but simply for the mere delectation of his fancy, by the feather put into his cap, of having been abroad.And at that he was a clergyman Strange are your deeds, Oh Lord.But the most important thing is that God dictated to Laurence Sterne a universal postmodern rule never piss out of your window.

  7. says:

    The Shandian Spawn If on a friend s bookshelf You cannot find Joyce or Sterne Cervantes, Rabelais, or Burton, Gaddis or Gass, Pynchon or McElroy, David Foster Wallace, William T Vollmann, Alexander Theroux or Gilbert Sorrentino, You are in danger, face the fact, So kick him first or punch him hard And from him hide behind a curtain Alexander Theroux Erg nzung von N.R Do I really have to say that again But, so, let s look at what Steven Moore claims to be the stream of spawn flowing forth from the narrative wealth of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.We begin at the very beginning, which is just after Sterne himself this is not the proper way to begin one should begin at conception, back in Greece, Rome, China, India, Japan, etc, but that is what Moore s Volume the First and much of Volume the Second were for Voltaire s Potpourri 1765 , The Man with Forty Crowns 1768 , and Lord Chesterfield s Ears 1775 Diderot s Jacques the Fatalist and His Master Xavier de Maistre s Voyage around My Room some novels from the German likes of Wieland, Nicolai, Hippel, Wezel, Richter and the American novelist High Henry Brackenridge So much for the 18th century Lets continue into the 19th and 20th centuries using or less Mr Moore s words, because it is Mr Moore s list and I am only reproducing it here because MORE PEOPLE NEED TO READ MORE BOOKS LIKE THIS KIND OF BOOK You know, this kind of book tends to get BURIED Also, one should read ALL of both of Moore s novel books because there are even MORE books found there that you ve never heard of and with which you may find yourself IN LOVE.BEGIN QUOTATION OF STEVEN MOORE notice the quotation marks Beginning in the 19th century, the trickle turned into a stream the Shandy family genes can be detected in Charles Lucas s Infernal Quixote 1801 , Nicolai Wergeland s Petty Incidents in the Life of Haldor Smek 1805 10 , Washington Irving s History of New York 1809 , Ferenc Verseghy s Merry Life and Ridiculous Opinions of Gergely Kolomposi Szarvas 1814 15 , Thomas Love Peacock s Headlong Hall 1815 , Lord Byron s verse novel Don Juan 1818 23 , which he called a poetical T Shandy, E.T.A Hoffmann s Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr 1820 22 , several of American John Neal s novels Randolph, Errata, Authorship , Yakov de Sanglen s Life and Opinions of a New Tristram 1825 , Charles Nodier s Story of the King of Bohemia and His Seven Castles 1830 , 19 year old Karl Marx s Scorpion and Felix 1837, unfortunately incomplete , Robert Southey s Doctor 1834 47 , Thomas Carlyle s Sartor Resartus 1836 , Nicolai Gogol s Nose 1836 Pushkin called Gogol the Russian Sterne , S ren Kierkegaard s Either Or Stages on Life s Way diptych 1843 45 , Almedia Garrett s Travels in My Homeland 1846 , Herman Melville s Mardi 1849 and Moby Dick 1851 , Lewis Carroll s Alice in Wonderland 1865, 1871 , Ippolito Nievo s Castle of Fratta 1867 , and earlier novels J lio Dinis s English Family 1868 , Carlo Dossi s Life of Alberto Pisani 1870 , Gustave Flaubert s Bouvard and P cuchet 1881 , and in Joaquim Machado de Assis s later novels By the end of the century, Sterne s spawn could be found throughout continental Europe, Scandinavia, and Russia I m still quoting Moore notice the quotation marks but here I m gonna reformat into a columnar list, for read abble s sake, since I can t reproduce the typesetting on Moore s page which is intended to intimate the shape of an ever widening river In the 20th century, the stream widened into a river, beginning with Natsume Soseki s I Am a Cat, and including Miguel de Unamuno s Mist, Andrei Bely s Petersburg, James Joyce s Ulysses and Finnegans Wake he cited Sterne when describing the latter , Vikto Shklovsky s Sentimental Journey, Italo Svevo s Confessions of Zeno, Andre Gide s Counterfeiters, Luigi Pirandello s One, No One, and One Hundred Thousand, Alfred D blin s Berlin Alexanderplatz, Stanislaw Witkiewicz s Insatiability,Mikl s Szentkuthy s Prae,John Dos Passos s USA,Juan Filly s Op Oloop and Faction,Philip Wylie s Finnley Wren and Opus 21,Witold Gombrowicz s Ferdydurke,Vladimir Nabokov s Real Life of Sebastian Knight,Flann O Brien s At Swim Two Birds,Mikhail Bulgakov s Master and Margarita,Macedonio Fernandez s Museum of Eterna s Novel,Kenneth Patchen s Journal of Albion Moonlight,Thomas Mann s Doctor Faustus,Felipe Alfau s Chromos,Louis Paul Boon s Summer in Termuren,G nter Grass s Tin Drum and Flounder,Jack Kerouac s Old Angel Midnight And Tristram Shraundy Shern, marvelous book ,Julio Cort zar s Hopscotch,Guillermo Cabrera Infante s Three Trapped Tigers,Richard Brautigan s Trout Fishing in America,William H Gass s Willie Masters Lonesome Wife and The Tunnel,Steve Katz s Exagggerations of Peter Prince,Venedikt Erofeev s Moscow to the End of the Line,Ronald sukenick s Up,Kurt Vonnegut s Slaughterhouse Five,Donald Harington s Some Other Place The Right Place.,Chandler Brossard s A Chimney Sweep Comes Clean,Severo Sarduy s Cobra,Thomas Pynchon s Gravity s Rainbow,Augusto Roa Bastos s I the Supreme,Jos Lezama Lima s Paradiso,Raymond Federman s Take It or Leave It,Juan Goytisolo s Juan the Landless,Fernando del Paso s Palinuro of Mexico,Arno Schmidt s Evening Edged in Gold,Portuguese collaborators Manuel da Silva Ramos and Alface s experimental novels, David Markson s Springer s Progress,Georges Perec s Life a User s Manual,Ign cio de Loyola Brand o s Zero,Italo Calvino s If on a winter s night a traveler,Alfredo Bryce Echenique s A World for Julius,Gilbert Sorrentino s Mulligan Stew,Alexander Theroux s Darconville s Cat,D Keith Mano s Take Five,Salman Rushdies Midnight s Children,Genichiro Takahashi s Sayonora, Gangsters,Juli n R os s Larva,Aladair Gray s 1982, Janine and Old Men in LoveAldo Busi s Standard Life of an Ordinary Pantyhose Salesman,George Garrett s Poison Pen,Carlos Fuentes s Christopher Unborn,Jacques Roubaud s Great Fire of London,Fernando Arrabal s Extravagant Crusade of a Castrated Man in Love,Thomas McGonigle s Going to Patchogue,David Foster Wallace s novelsand some of William T Vollmann s,H ctor Abad Faciolince s Joy of Being Awake,Javier Mar as Dark Back of Time written after he had translated Tristram Shandy into Spanish ,Haruki Murakami s Wind up Bird Chronicle,Matthew Remski s Silver,Walter Moer s 13 1 2 Lives of Captain Bluebear,Joseph Heller s Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man,several of Percival Everett s novels,Daniel Sada s Porque parece mentira la verdad nunca se sabe,Mark Z Danielewski s House of Leaves,Robert Juan Cantavella s Otro,Per H jholt s Aruicula,Robert Coover s Lucky Pierre,Steve Tomasula s VAS,Enrique Vila Matas s Montano s Malady,Jasper Fforde s ffictionsGordon Sheppard s Ha ,Paul Anderson s Hunger s Brides,Adam Thirwell s Politics,Jeff VanderMeer s City of Saints and Madmen,James McCourt s Now Voyagers,Joshua Cohen s Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto,Evan Dara s Easy Chain,Lee Henerson s Man Game,Benjamin Zucker s talmudic trilogy,Matthew Roberson s Impotent,John McGreal s Book of It,Lawrence Sutin s When to Go into the Water,Adam Levin s Instructions,Arthur Phillip s Tragedy of Arthur,Sergio De La Pava s Personae,Tom Carson s Daisy Buchanan s Daughter,Jan Brandt s Gegen die Welt,Mark Leyner s Sugar Frosted Nutsack,Will Self s Umbrella,Chris Eaton s Chris Eaton continues Moore I ll stop there, for as Calvino wrote in 1981, Tristram Shandy is the undoubted progenitor of all avant garde novels of our century Moore goes on to make a three degrees of separation or fewer to Laurence Sterne kind of a claim by way of such renown d fictioneers as Balzac, Dickens, Tolstoy, Eliot, and Twain BUT you ll notice what is not on this list same thing that s not on many such lists in fact, it is missing the same thing which is missing on most of my lists female authors Let s listen in on Moore s footnote about his anomoly I begin quoting Moore again notice the quotation marks That list, you ve probably noticed, is a total sausage fest the daughters of Tristram Shandy might include Djuna Barnes s Ryder,Virginia Woolf s Orlando,Brigid Brophy s In Transit,Julieta Campos s Fear of Losing Eurydice,Gabrielle Burton s Heartbreak Hotel,Jaimy Gordon s Shamp of the City Solo,Janice Galloway s Trick Is to Keep Breathing This book resembles Tristram Shandy as rewritten by Sylvia Plath NYTBR ,Sarah Schulman s Empathy,Jeanette Winterson s Gut Symmetries,Helen DeWitt s Last Samurai,Heather Woodbury s What Ever,Cintra Wilson s Colors Insulting to Nature,Vanessa Place s La Medusa,Nicola Barker s Darkmans,Emilie Autumn s Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls,Carol Hart s History of the Novel in Ants,Sheila Heti s How Should a Person Be ,certain novels by Kathy Acker,Christine Brooke Rose,Rikki Ducornet,Thalia Field,Xiaolu Guo,Carole Maso,Ali Smith, andAritha Van Herk,and some formally innovative YA novels by the likes of Susie Day,E Lockhart, andLauren Myracle But Sterne s cocktail of comic erudition, slap and tickle sexuality, bittersweet sentimentalism, and achronological form doesn t seem to attract many women writers or women readers, according to Professor Elizabeth Terries She says in her career she s taught Tristram Shandy to nearly 500 female students, and estimates not than twenty enjoyed reading Sterne s work or will ever return to it So The foregoing list which belongs to Mr Steven Moore and was originally published in his The Novel An Alternative History, 1600 1800 shall, in the near future, be incarnated yet again in the form of a Listopia list, curtesy of Friend Aubrey I ll link to it from here at that time.For a similar kind of Wonder List and much duplication , I ve got a Rabelaisian list over there in my Rabelais Review You won t have difficulty finding it It s fantastic

  8. says:

    Shall we for ever make new books, as apothecaries make new mixtures, by pouring only out of one vessel into another Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman A POEM IN WHICH IS A CELEBRATION BY NEGATIONor, a repartee on jeopardy.If on a friend s bookshelfYou cannot find Joyce or SterneCervantes, Rabelais, or Burton,You are in danger, face the fact,So kick him first or punch him hardAnd from him hide behind a curtain. Alexander Theroux I was of course destined to love this book Just look at my love for on Montaigne, Cervantes Burton J adore big books full of absurdity and digressions and allusions This is the THE grand pappa of the modern novel the paterfamilis of all things Shandy Looking into the black night after emerging with a book from my mother s womb, I dreamt of THIS book among the stars Sterne s Tristam existed for me before I read it It was like a song whose tune you hum in your head for years, before identifying the tune with an actual song Tristram Shandy was playing in the background as I read Joyce, Nabokov, Kerouac, Vonnegut, Murakami, Pynchon, DFW, Rushdie, Woolf, etc Hell, even Karl Marx loved this book But now, I find myself debating on whether I will be content with my Modern Library Fokenflik intro and notes version or if I need to go buy the Visual Edition or the Florida Edition IF this seems like an odd obsession after reading finishing Tristram Shandy, perhaps you haven t read it It just isn t one of those books you really escape from I keep digressing back into the novel because you keep recognizing the novel in other novels and movies and people I look at Mandelbrot sets and think THIS is Tristram Shandy with its digressions, repetitions, and spawn I look at the endnotes of DFW and think, this IS a Shandian experiment I look at Vonnegut s picture of an asshole pg 81 in BreakFast of Champions and think this is a Shandian experiment.Sterne was postModern before postModern was cool Reading Tristram Shandy is like discovering that someone in the 18th century had already built a working computer, but that all it did was spit out a long sequence of digressions Anyway, my wife informed me that she loved just watching me read so this is now a voyeur review Sterne because I would spit, giggle, choke, and squirm every page I would wiggle and twist as Sterne would allude to the classics and twist the logic and satirize everyone from Robert Burton to Jonathan Swift to William Warburton I can t say this novel isn t appreciated Those who have read it get it, but it isn t appreciated enough I imagine it will be like discovering Frank Zappa in 200 years A future me will be looking at old YouTube videos and will think GOD why didn t people appreciate him props to Nathan N.R Gaddis for uncovering exposing this poem.

  9. says:

    DedicationThis was a re read of a novel that I first read when I was about 14 and that has stayed fresh in my mind ever since.It was recommended to me by my cricket coach and favourite teacher, John Carr, who taught me English for five years and cemented my passion for Literature in the early 70 s His Master s Thesis was on Evelyn Waugh s Sword of Honour Trilogy which I ve also read and plan to re read I was amused to learn from Steven Moore that one John Carr rushed out a fake version of volume 3 of Tristram Shandy four months before Laurence Sterne had published his own version Long live homage and fan fiction This review is dedicated to both John Carr s, one a teacher and the other a shit stirrer Let Me Go On, and Tell My Story My Own Way The version of the novel that I read was 528 pages long Don t be afraid of the perceived length The chapters are short and easy to read, plus it s a lot of fun, once you get into the rhythm of the writing Like a slippery slide, the hardest part is getting on the rest is all downhill.If you read anything about Tristram Shandy , you ll discover it is full of digressions This is only partly true The assessment assumes that there is a path from which the author departs It s probably accurate to say that he never embarks on a set path in the first place.If a line can be said to be the shortest distance between two points, Sterne never really sets out to get from A to B, or to do it efficiently or quickly He simply sits down to tell his story his way, as if we readers were sitting across from him at a pub or smoking our pipes in front of a fireplace He s in no hurry, but equally importantly neither are we He simply asks that we let him get on and tell his story his own way.Left to his own devices, he is individualistic and unconventional, and so is his novel.In Which the Author Turns a Story Into a PlotSteven Moore differentiates between a story and a plot The story consists of the events in a novel as they would occur in chronological order the plot refers to the novelist s particular arrangements of those events While Moore identifies the three key elements of the story, I don t think they re particularly important What is most appealing is the methodology Sterne uses to convert them into a plot For me, the most interesting aspects of the novel are the self referential discussions of the writing of the novel and the relationship between author, work and reader.These aspects are pure metafiction, and you could argue that no author has bettered them, before or after.The Beauty of the Line or the Line of Beauty The prevailing view of a narrative in a traditional realistic novel is linear In the interests of efficiency and speed i.e., distance travelled divided by time , the plot can be described in terms of a straight line.A straight line has a mathematical and a scientific significance However, it also has a moral, creative and social significance A straight line does not deviate to the left or the right If we don t deviate, we stay on the straight and narrow Christians say it is the right path or the path of the righteous Cicero describes it as an emblem of moral rectitude.If the line is vertical, it is upright or virtuous If something falls from its top to its bottom, it experiences a divine gravitational force By extension, the righteous feel gravitas.Etymologically, all of these words are related straight, direct, erect, right, upright, rectitude, righteous The physical qualities morph into the moral and from there via recht into the legal.Just as the right handed ostracise the left handed, the straight ostracise the bent, the crooked, the digressive and the divergent.It s this that Sterne rebels against.He never sets out to follow the straight and narrow His goal, so long as his neck remains flexible, is to follow his nose and his gaze, wherever they might lead him And where he goes, so does his tale It s our pleasure and privilege to accompany him The Life of BeautySterne takes a straight line and bends or curves it He makes it curvaceous, until it is closer to a line of beauty in the sense meant by Hogarth in his Analysis of Beauty.To quote wiki According to this theory, S shaped curved lines signify liveliness and activity and excite the attention of the viewer as contrasted with straight lines, parallel lines, or right angled intersecting lines, which signify stasis, death, or inanimate objects Thus, Sterne s aversion for a straight line reflects an attraction to vitality, motion and dynamism Tristram Shandy is nothing if not about vitality So vary d he, and of his tortuous train Curl d many a wanton wreath, in fight of Eve, To lure her eye MiltonOf Riddles and MysteriesSterne s objection to the straight line is also an objection to the logical processes that appear to govern our understanding of the world.He doesn t necessarily come across as a mystic However, it seems that we need at least intuition to experience and enjoy the best that the world has to offer We live amongst riddles and mysteries the most obvious things, which come in our way, have dark sides, which the quickest sight cannot penetrate into, and even the clearest and most exalted understandings amongst us find ourselves puzzled and at a loss in almost every cranny of nature s works Sterne objects to the plain, the joyless, the boring, that which lacks interest There is nothing pleasing to a traveller, or terrible to travel writers, than a large rich plain that presents nothing to the eye, but one unvaried picture of plenty Of Conquests and ConcupiscenceWhile form might override content in Tristram Shandy , it does rear its head in the last trimester of the novel, when it becomes clear that the true concern of the characters, both male and female, is sex They are, one and all, seeking something perhaps than friendship, less than love, at least to start with.In retrospect, much of the dialogue is just playful or flirtatious or talking bawdy , as was the case with Sterne s predecessor, Rabelais The ultimate goal, for a male, is to tempt a pretty woman into a conversation with a pinch of snuff Why could not a man sit down in the lap of content here, and dance and sing and say his prayers and go to heaven with this nut brown maid Ironically, this was in France, which elsewhere Sterne would describe as foutre land , though I confess I can t give an accurate contemporary translation of the term.Love and lust and amours in which the reader longs for uncle Toby to get his oats consist of thrusts and parries, just as much as any military battle Fortifications and defences are broken down Seductions follow campaigns and sieges if you re lucky.Of the Love Between an Author and a ReaderSo, ultimately, Sterne seems to argue, talking of love is making it If so, then you might well agree, what s the hurry One lover s digression is another s foreplay The point is to be aligned, if not vertically, at least horizontally.Equally, the process of writing and reading follows some of the rules of attraction and love, at least to the extent that it depends on good communication and the sharing of the creative burdens between the two participants Writing, when properly managed, is but a different name for conversation The truest respect which you can pay to the reader s understanding, is to halve this matter amicably, and leave him something to imagine, in his turn, as well as yourself Thus, when the pleasure is equally shared, it s possible that Tristram wasn t necessarily complaining when he moaned, the I write, the I shall have to write Perhaps what he really meant was that, the I love, the I shall have to love.If this sounds like a fertile fancy or mere exaggeration, then, like Sterne I beg the reader will assist me here SOUNDTRACK Van Morrison Help Me from the live album It s Too Late to Stop Now Morrison Help Me Live at Montreux Jazz, 2012 Boy Williamson Help Me Berthon Help Me

  10. says:

    The name of this review in its saved document is Review Tristram Shandy NEEDS A FULLER REVIEW Hence this fuller review, dashed off in a few minutes, or tens or twenties or thirties of minutes Which of course reminds us, as Montaigne once wrote, The hour of parleying is dangerous But given that truth, what am I to say about my own parleying with Sterne, if it goes on beyond an hour or achieves its end in less than an hour By whom would this danger be faced By I the writer Or by you the reader And what danger would need confrontation The danger of boredom The danger of falling off a chair The danger of mistakenly imbibing the Amanita bisporigera destroying angel as it s known commonly Perhaps, to cut to the chase and make once again a reference to Stern himself, by obliquely referring to one of his favorite sources of quotations, the danger of melancholy We shall perhaps return to these sharp questions Or perhaps not At any rate 4 1 2 I can t quite up this to a 5 since well, of course I could, and perhaps should After all, five in the Bible is significant because God s creation man and woman too, we are told has five fingers, five senses and five toes not four and one half of each nor does man and woman in fact have five hands or five feet though of course when we speak of the length, that is height, of a man or woman the achievement of having five feet, or even , is by no means unusual And thus to continue, five is the number of God s grace, and by giving Sterne s book five stars which by the by I will in fact allow myself to do at this late date, so in that manner to confront the Lord with a five star rating, and challenge Him or is it Her to bless this review with bountiful victuals aha, haha, and la de da, that slip reveals that eating, or at least the thought of snacking, has slipped into my mind, slipped out of my belly perhaps, wriggled upwards through the grams, ounces, pounds, stone note the correct plural used for the units Sterne himself would have used for measuring the massivity of men women anything else of my flesh straight into the noncorporeal organ of thought which circumstance reminds us of Gluttony, and the harm which is visited upon both body and soul by that Cardinal sin, so that, in Burton s words, As a lamp is choked with a multitude of oil, or a little fire with overmuch wood quite extinguished, so is the natural heat with immoderate eating strangled in the body Perniciosa sentina est abdomen insaturabile, which means that goes double for immoderate snacking And verily, I hence cross out my original reason for withholding the blessed five thus by my criteria I d have to believe I might read it a second time, and I don t think that s likely, because of the length than anything else However, a problem here arises, for I have in effect crossed out as well the very phrase which appears in bold as the first few words of this modest paragraph Thus I implore the reader to substitute, in their own mind or whatever they use for thinking perceiving the words Five stars 4 1 2 I can t quite up this to a 5 since for that very phrase referred to in the previous sentence.But we will return to this repast riposte later Or perhaps not Anyway It is a very impressive piece of literature, and extremely funny in many, many parts And here I can again strike out Hopefully I will write a illuminating review at some point because, this illuminating review is here present and accounted for, my confidence in this increased illumination, or light if you will, illustrating as Montaigne said, that this strong confidence can only be manifested, natural and entire, by those who are not terrified by the thought of death Be that as it may, let us put aside thoughts of death for the present, and return to them aplenty later But maybe we won t, it is something of a downer, which recalls the subject topic thesis adumbration what have you of melancholy leading to the great Burton and his comment on natural death, that Calenus and his Indians hated of old to die a natural death the Circumcellions and Donatists, loathing life, compelled others to make them away but these are false and pagan positions, profane Stoical paradoxes, wicked examples it boots not what heathen philosophers determine in this kind, they are impious, abominable, and upon a wrong ground He could as well have said upon a wrong hobby horse , but regardless, the question becomes, if we hark back to Gluttony, whether or not death by Gluttony is a natural or unnatural death.I started reading it as an e book, and persevered through Volume V chapter III, almost half way At that point I bought a used copy of the Oxford World s Classics edition, which in the number and arcane references of its notes made me think of Joyce s Ulysses I highly recommend this edition, which also includes a 25 page introduction not yet read by me , an eight page bibliography, and those 60 pages of Explanatory Notes in small print I can aver that that piece of narrative seems quite apposite to a review, hence find no inclination to strike it from the increased illumination cast on it in the presence of this enlarged review But speaking of large reviews, my thoughts range to large reviews I have penned well of course penned is inaccurate, we in modern times use not pens for composition or to hold free range animals but let penned stand, if the pen fall down the thoughts will stray away which phrase, though not actually used in the review, does bring to mind the essay review narrative story I penned wrote typed composed brought to light whatever blah blah blah about the book The Things They Carried, and specifically within that review narrative story essay the lengthy quotation I presented from the author s brilliant story chapter Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong, and specifically, the final section of that story, introduced with the words, And then one morning, all alone, Mary Anne walked off into the mountains and did not come back. Which was naturally what that phrase stray away would, I think, remind anyone of.By this time, I think I ve wrapped all loose ends of this review around each other, tangled into an impenetrable knot, such that readers will gratefully escape further comments, unless they already have escaped in which case they and I are equally in the dark about my ultimate motives.On that note B flat it sounds like I ll turn off the illumination, much as I would enjoy continuing this beyond whatever time it has taken, but heedful of Montaigne s warning about parleying and danger, I will leave the review as it now stands or falls.If you enjoy 18th century classics or earlier ones, such as Montaigne, Burton, Bacon because of Sterne s references to his antecedents , you should be all means give this a try.