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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy,…

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

by Laurence Sterne

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,08563883 (3.93)5 / 353
  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 (62)  Italian (1)  All languages (63)
Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
I do remember this extremely silly book. It was amusing. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
[From Books and You, Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1940, pp. 34-35:]

Sterne’s Tristram Shandy is a novel of very different character [than Fielding’s Tom Jones]. You might say of it what Dr Johnson said of Sir Charles Grandison: “If you were to read it for the story, you would hang yourself.” It is a book that, according to your temperament, you will find either as readable as anything you have ever read, or tiresome and affected. It has no unity. It has no coherence. Digression follows upon digression. But it is wonderfully original, funny and pathetic; and it increases your spiritual possessions with half a dozen characters so full of idiosyncrasy and so lovable that once you have come to know them, you feel that not to have known them would have been an irreparable loss. Nor would I have anyone fail to read Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey; I have nothing to say of it except that it is enchanting.
  WSMaugham | Jun 23, 2015 |
Why is this book a classic? How is it that people have been reading this collection of words for 250 years? I read something a few years ago which put Tristam Shandy on my to-read list, but by the time I got started on it I'd forgotten exactly what had triggered my interest. I plowed through. The book has no plot, but continually hints that there might be a plot coming, if only you'll hold out a little while longer. It's just a series of anecdotes and digressions, and while it has some entertaining moments, on the whole it is one of the more mind-numbingly boring books I've ever read. But it's a classic, and I feel virtuous for having finished it. Now I'm off to read some 21st century pulp to clear my palate. ( )
  Amelia_Smith | May 2, 2015 |
This would probably be a lot more funny or biting satire if I had a clue what was going on. I had a penguin copy with over 100 pages of notes and still found myself wondering what on earth he was on about. As it was, it was quite amusing, a bit bawdy and a work of art in the matter of how to digress... He sets out to tel his life story, only it takes 3.5 volume before he's born! Then he is suddenly 3 years old and from there the next incident seems to be a grand tour. So it is certainly not a genuine life. In fact the narrator is curiously absent from the story most of the way through. While told in the first person., a lot of the incidents are reported by him, rather than necessary happened to him. There are some genuine sparks of amusement; how tristram got his name and the section on how his father wrote a training manual, only it took until he was 3 to write it, by which time the first 3 years had been wasted, being great instances; and it's not exactly a difficult read. But I'm sure that I was missing a deeper level of meaning in quite a lot of places. There is considerable use of slang and language that has evolved or fallen into disuse. There were a number of instances when a classically educated gentleman of the era would have recognised the name or reference, but it hardly helped me when who they were was explained. I think there are few books that work better when taught, as opposed to when read - this might well be one of the exceptions. ( )
  Helenliz | Jan 22, 2015 |
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.”

Brooklyn, NY

  RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 62 (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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ταρασσει τους ἀνθρωπους οὐ τα πραγματα ἀλλα τα περι των πραγματων δογματα.

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


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."

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?
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(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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:41 -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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5 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439777, 0141199997

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