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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy,…
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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

by Laurence Sterne

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,93559928 (3.92)5 / 338
  1. 40
    Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Cecrow, ateolf)
    Cecrow: Spanish tale laced with humour, predates TS by 150 years.
  2. 20
    Tom Jones by Henry Fielding (Widsith)
    Widsith: The obvious companion book...funnier but less story-driven
  3. 10
    Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (laurapickle)
    laurapickle: Midnight's Children borrows much from Sterne (as well as many other novels!), reworking it into his Booker winning novel.
  4. 21
    Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais (ateolf)
  5. 10
    Jacques the Fatalist by Denis Diderot (fvenez)
  6. 00
    My Brother Was an Only Child by Jack Douglas (Bill-once)
    Bill-once: Sterne's work and style subtly suffuse Douglas'
  7. 11
    Ulysses by James Joyce (henkl, roby72)
  8. 00
    Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (roby72)
  9. 00
    The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (DieFledermaus, StevenTX)
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English (58)  Italian (1)  All languages (59)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
I came to this work out of a long-standing curiosity. My curiosity was piqued – for roughly 100 pages – but then, no longer. I simply gave up.

Sterne gives a whole new dimension to the word ‘digression.’ It wasn’t his vocabulary, his occasionally odd spelling and punctuation, his rather esoteric (and numerous!) references, the small print on these pages, or even the smaller print on page after page of footnotes that put me off. Rather, it was the digression within a digression within a digression that slowly wore me down to a frazzle.

A book or story doesn’t necessarily have to be linear to hold my interest. But it’s got to go somewhere. This one didn’t seem to be going much of anywhere.

I’ve elected not to give any stars to this review simply because I don’t trust my own judgment. Sterne’s Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is considered a classic, and classics don’t get to be classics by default. Hence, I’ll take the fault as my own.

I will, however, conclude with one nugget (of which there are many!) I found already on p. 49. This one makes Sterne sound almost clairvoyant: “…(w)hen that happens, it is to be hoped, it will put an end to all kind of writings whatsoever;—the want of all kind of writing will put an end to all kind of reading;---and that in time, As war begets poverty, poverty peace,—-must, in course, put an end to all kind of knowledge,---and then—-we shall have all to begin over again; or, in other words, be exactly where we started.”

RRB
11/07/14
Brooklyn, NY

  RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
I so admire this book! I guess I was not quite gasping when I finished this book, but I wish I could write like Sterne. ( )
  Benedict8 | Jul 16, 2014 |
A funny, irreverent book, well deserved of praise. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
From the title, you might expect this book to be a memoir, or at least a story with a linear plot. If that is what you want to read, then DO NOT pick up this book. But if you want to be entertained and read about humorous thoughts regarding buttons, hobby horses, and other unrelated and bizarre topics, then this is the book for you. I was definitely surprised and entertained by this story. ( )
  jmoncton | May 21, 2014 |
One of the three or four greatest English novels, by a master of digression and interruption and conversational conflict...oh, and of tone of voice. Sterne creates the major characters of Uncle Toby, Tristram's father Walter, his mother, and adds Toby's servant Trim, as well as Doctor Slop, and the parson, Yorick. Since Sterne was, like most of the English Poets Laureate of his time, also a parson, Yorick becomes a commentary.
The pulse of the novel is Sterne's declaration that the more he writes, the further behind he gets, so that, in fact, Tristram gets born in Volume III. In the meanwhile, there is a standing joke about the window sash and castration, there are comparisons between seige warfare and obstetrics: in fact, there are so many unusual comparisons Tristram Shandy competes with "metaphysical poems" in unlikely analogies.
Sterne's only follower may be James Joyce, who can also be funny, though possibly not as funny as Lawrence Sterne. Wonder what it was like to have Rev Sterne as your minister? What a hoot. ( )
  AlanWPowers | May 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (100 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Laurence Sterneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Austen, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Evans, BergenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juva, KerstiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lesser, AntonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Levi, CarloContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marías, JavierTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Melchiori, GiorgioForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meo, AntonioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
New, JoanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
New, MelvynEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Priestley, J.B.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ricks, ChristopherIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robinson, James K.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Self, WillIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watt, IanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wheelwright, RowlandIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Work, James A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
ταρασσει τους ἀνθρωπους οὐ τα πραγματα ἀλλα τα περι των πραγματων δογματα.

What stresses mankind is not things, but opinions about things --- Epictetus
Dedication
To the Right Honourable Mr. Pitt.

Sir,

Never poor Wight of a Dedicator had less hopes from his Dedication, than I have from this of mine; for it is written in a bye corner of the kingdom, and in a retir'd thatch'd house, where I live in a constant endeavour to fence against the infirmities of ill health, and other evils of life, by mirth; being firmly persuaded that every time a man smiles,—but much more so, when he laughs, it adds something to this Fragment of Life.

I humbly beg, Sir, that you will honour this book, by taking it—(not under your Protection,—it must protect itself, but)—into the country with you; where, if I am ever told, it has made you smile; or can conceive it has beguiled you of one moment's pain—I shall think myself as happy as a minister of state;—perhaps much happier than any one (one only excepted) that I have read or heard of.

I am, Great Sir, (and, what is more to your Honour) I am, Good Sir, Your
Well-wisher, and most humble Fellow-subject,

The Author.
First words
"I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing; - that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind; - and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost: ---Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly, ---I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world from that in which the reader is likely to see me."

Quotations
and so long as a man rides his Hobby-Horse peaceably and quietly along the King's highway, and neither compels you or me to get up behind him, - pray, Sir, what have either you or I to do with it?
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the original work by Laurence Sterne, not the graphic novel adaptation/commentary by Martin Rowson. It should not be combined with the Norton Critical Edition, nor with single volumes of a two or three volume set.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141439777, Paperback)

The comic masterpiece Tristram Shandy is often regarded as a progenitor of the twentieth century novel. Within the resolutely tangled strands of this narrative is the life, from conception, of a gentleman cursed at birth with the name Tristram. Though everything occurs between parlor and garden, Tristram's excitable father, bewildered mother, and Uncle Toby provide ample opportunity for the digressions and madcap events that structure this seminal novel.


@ACockAndBallsStory I’ve just been born, and I had a tragic accident. A windowpane fell on me, and flattened my dic— NOSE. My nose! That was almost embarrassing.

Chapter XIX: I don’t feel like tweeting today.

From Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:02 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

At once endlessly facetious and highly serious, Sterne's great comic novel contains some of the best-known and best-loved characters in English literature--including Uncle Toby, Corporal Trim, Parson Yorick, and Dr. Slop--and boasts one of the most innovative and whimsical narrative styles in all literature. This revised edition of Sterne's extraordinary novel retains the text based on the first editions of the original nine volumes (with Sterne's later changes), adds two illustrations by William Hogarth, and expands and updates the introduction, bibliography, and notes, to make this the most critically up-to-date edition available. The text of the novel preserves, as far as possible, the appearance of Sterne's idiosyncratic typography and features such as black pages, marbled pages, blank pages, missing chapters and other devices. The introduction sheds light on the novel's innovations and influence and provides a biographical account of the author. Comprehensive notes identify the profusion of references and reveal previously overlooked sources. - Publisher.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439777, 0141199997

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