The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

by Laurence Sterne


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Purporting to be an autobiography of the antihero Tristram Shandy, Lawrence Sterne's novel is a comic masterpiece of digression, egoism and sensationalism, as its hilarious asides, explanations and host of memorable secondary characters – such as Uncle Toby, Dr Slop, Parson Yorick and Widow Wadman – take centre stage, at the expense of the actual life events the book sets out to depict.

A humorous compendium of European thought and literature – pastiching the likes of Locke and Bacon and referencing Pope, Swift, Cervantes and Rabelais – emerges amid the convoluted accounts of Tristram's conception, misnaming and accidental circumcision by a sash window, in a shrewd narrative that examines the role and nature of language itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781517013677
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 08/23/2015
Pages: 574
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.16(d)

About the Author

Laurence Sterne (1713–68) was an Irish-born Anglican minister. He is most famous for his novels The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy.

Table of Contents

Introduction vii(18)
Note on the text xxv(1)
Select bibliography xxvi(2)
Chronology of Laurence Sterne xxviii
Notes 540(54)
List of Emendations 594

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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Illustrated) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sterne's book is the most hilarious ride one can hope for in the world of English literature. It breaks every rule and convention of the English novel; it can be called the first postmodern novel, and was written before even modernism had taken shape. Neitzsche called Sterne 'the most liberated spirit of all time', and this book is the reason why. Enough said. Buy it, read it, and laugh until you cry.
Geogre More than 1 year ago
The Everyman Library edition of Tristram Shandy is a pleasant, clean text in a satisfying hard cover at an affordable price. Those who already know their middle 18th century Britain will be able to navigate the text from this edition alone, but anyone who has not read Tristram Shandy before may prefer a thoroughly emendated edition, like the Norton. The Florida Edition, edited by Melvin New, is the choice for those seeking an authoritative critical text. For me, I wanted a copy of Tristram Shandy for re-reading, for leisure, and for comfort, and the Everyman delivered all of those things beautifully.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sterne is the patriarch of modernism. His text is rich with short cuts, detours, and dead ends. It threatens to stall or stay in perpetual motion. In short, it is nothing but a joy to read. The reader constantly plays a game within Sterne¿s own textual game. Each return back to the novel sparks a new advent of the eye. Certain phrases of Sterne¿s read like poetry, others suggest the potency of a painting like the Mona Lisa, deep, uncertain, and ever staring back into the nothingness deeps of the viewer¿s pupil. I appreciate texts like James Joyce¿s Ulysses all the more having read Tristram Shandy, the text that launched a thousand typos (well, actually, it took another one hundred and sixty three years for Joyce to get his ¿modernist¿ act together). Tristram Shandy is a truly a celebration in literary masochism. The struggle to conquer each page¿s uncertainty only results in failure. Yet, the failure to pin down the infinite is sweet, bittersweet. Our struggle with the indeterminate that paints each page is beautiful. Sterne¿s games provoke the eye and mind to remain ever questioning; for indeed, only the uncertain defines the extent of one¿s genius. In his refusal to accept the conventional, Sterne is the ultimate optometrist. He corrected my 20/20 vision; I now see blurry, indeed I would not want to see any other way.
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As its title suggests, the book is ostensibly Tristram's narration of his life story. But central to the novel is the theme of not explaining anything simply, thus there are explanatory diversions to add context and colour to his tale, to the extent that we do not even reach Tristram's own birth until Volume III. However, beginning the narrative before one has been born is not unique in literature, for example see the opening chapter of David Copperfield. Consequently, apart from Tristram as narrator, the most familiar and important characters in the book are his father Walter, his mother, his Uncle Toby, Toby's servant Trim, and a supporting cast of minor characters including Doctor Slop and the parson Yorick (no doubt inspired by Shakespeare).Most of the action is concerned with domestic upsets or misunderstandings, which find humour in the opposing temperaments of Walter¿splenetic, rational and somewhat sarcastic¿and Uncle Toby, who is gentle, uncomplicated and a lover of his fellow man. "The long-nosed Stranger of Strasburg": Book IV opens with a story from one of Walter's favourite books, a collection of stories in Latin about noses.In between such events, Tristram as narrator finds himself discoursing at length on sexual practices, insults, the influence of one's name, noses, as well as explorations of obstetrics, siege warfare and philosophy, as he struggles to marshal his material and finish the story of his life. What makes this novel remarkable is the seeming modernity of the technique and style. As with Rabelais, Sterne does not follow the "rules" for writing a novel, thus one encounters multiple allusions to other writers and their works and interjections of many kinds into the novel so that you begin to wonder what kind of book this is. Sterne was particularly influenced by Rabelais and his bawdy humor is no doubt due in part to that influence. This is not an easy read but one worth taking in small sections, a bit at a time. Having read Tristram Shandy you may be ready for twenty-first century post-modern literature or you may want to hang up the idea of literature altogether.
_________jt_________ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like it, because the persistent drollery kept seeming like it would develop into something really funny, and because the author seemed to be trying so hard, but this book really delivers little.
amydross on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't have time to finish this right now, but I aim to return to it one day. It's definitely entertaining, but lacking in forward motion. Seems like it would be a fun book to dip into regularly, without worrying about finishing, but grad school does not allow me that kind of leisurely reading at the moment. I'm about a third of the way through.
Helena81 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I couldn't finish this book, although I tried my hardest. I read about 30%, but it's just so meandering and aimless. I know that people enjoy the rambling narrative and find Tristram a comical narrator, but I just found it annoying and self-satisfied. And if I have to read the words "my uncle Toby" one more time I'm going to scream.
dreamingtereza on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"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." Laurence SterneIndisputably the most fun one can have alone with a book. An absolute favorite.
lriley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First published in nine parts during the 1760's this very remarkable novel by the English writer Laurence Sterne starts with the birth of one Tristram Shandy--following him through his young manhood. As a writer Sterne was quite the innovator--telling his Tristram stories through the multiple viewpoints of Tristram's father Walter, or his Uncle Toby and his valet Trim or through Tristram himself. Eccentric and unique in style-- we see stories begun and never finished--interrupted by one character or another--often taking them off on unforseen tangents--what makes all this seeming chaos work is the wit, style and verve of the writer and the exuberantly expansive nature of his characters--always curious to look under every rock and to ferret out even the smallest detail of whatever story they're hearing. There is no end to their intellectual curiosity and Sterne's prose moves effortlessly forward crossing over genre's with remarkable ease. For instance all of a sudden we are reading a travel novel (Volume 7) and in the final (Volume 9) book a romantic comedy--and it all fits seamlessly together. Anyway there are a lot of curiosities in this novel--and in some respects the work it reminds me of the most is Joyce's Ulysses--at least in some of its sections. Maybe not the easiest reading at times but for that matter neither is Ulysses or Don Quixote. FWIW a watershed moment in the development of the novel.
endersreads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First let me say that I very much enjoyed Christopher Ricks' introduction. I am usually only immensely angered by introductions¿this one, however, was fascinating. Also, the notes are delightful, and quite lengthy, as the novel is encyclopedic in knowledge. Walter and Captain Toby Shandy have become quite dear to my heart. I am still in the dark as to Toby's groin injury. I wonder if Mrs. Wadman's curiosity was ever satiated? I fear they were married. This novel is such a work of genius that it would be ridiculous for me to attempt to review it in earnest. I feel a bit like Tristram did in that "I don't know where to begin".I will say that I had planned to paste a picture of Gillian Anderson onto the blank page in which the reader is to draw an idealized lady. The marbled pages were over my head. The novel is quite chaotic¿wheels within wheels, digressions within digressions, time jumps, geographical jumps, et cetera. The thread which is consistent in its time scheme throughout the novel are the 2 wars against France.Of all of the novel's events, of all Tristram's own commentaries, I enjoy most the angry philosophical rants of Tristram's well-read father, Walter. Both Tristram and Laurence are very odd fellows, which is why we love them! I also love that Sterne and Tristram were quite fond of Don Quixote.
williamcostiganjr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very fanciful, whimsical book, and--stylistically--well ahead of its time. However, the subject matter is quite archaic. I made it about 300 pages in before I had gotten tired of all the digressions, and stopped reading it. It's a funny book and fairly entertaining--worth looking at, but after a while it grows tiresome.
Eurydice on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Digressive, dear sir? Yes! Bizarre, madam? -- Why, yes.... Bawdy? Well - Just read this passage quickly, madam, once through, without thinking --- and...Is it: Better in the first half? Sure. Sentimental? Certainly.A witty, whimsical, comic gem? - Absolutely!!!
wenestvedt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My oldest brother Cris turned me on to this book when I was too young to really understand how subversive it was (in literary terms) -- and when I encountered it again in college in the middle of an English degree, it was a welcome old friend.
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