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A Sentimental Journey and Other Writings (Oxford World's Classics) (original 1768; edition 2008)

by Laurence Sterne

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Title:A Sentimental Journey and Other Writings (Oxford World's Classics)
Authors:Laurence Sterne
Info:Oxford University Press, USA (2008), Edition: New, Paperback, 320 pages
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A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy by Laurence Sterne (1768)

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Sometimes, you read a book that is widely acclaimed as a classic, a masterpiece, a part of the literary canon, and your reaction is "Eh", or possibly "Meh". That's my reaction to "A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy", which was a hit after it was published in 1768, and has been finding readers for almost 250 years. When something like this happens, I assume that the problem isn't with the novel, it's with me. I couldn't get involved in the book, but that may be because I depend too much on narrative tension, and not enough on just being there. Also, I couldn't figure out what was going on at times: again, I may be too literal. For those who like this sort of thing, this is clearly the sort of thing they like. Hats off to them: I am not up to it. ( )
  annbury | Feb 5, 2014 |
Another great example of why you need to really think about what a book's trying to do before you judge it. This is nice and subtle- on the one hand, it tugs the heart-strings unashamedly; on the other hand, it makes ruthless fun of you for having your heart-string tugged. Great stuff- unless you're expecting well rounded three dimensional characters and believable plot turns and a coherent narrative and so on. Not here, friendo. Here you get intriguing reflections on the general goodness/evilness of humankind, and jokes at the expense of people who think you can make general reflections on morality in that way. I wish he'd been able to add a couple of volumes to it; the whole enterprise is so clever and so much less brow-beating than Tristram Shandy that it might've ended up being one of the best books I'd read. As is, it's pretty darn-tootin good. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
Within the genre of travelogues, two approaches can be distinguished. There are those authors who describe fore-mostly the places, and the habits of the people they visit, from an anthropological point of view, and there are those who describe the people they meet on their travels from a more humanistic point of view, as equals, so to speak. An example of the first type of travelogue would be Daniel Defoe's A tour through the whole island of Great Britain, which was published in 1724. Laurence Sterne's fictional A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy was published a few decades later in 1768. By this time, travel to the continent had become fashionable.

In Sterne's A sentimental journey, his alter ego Yorick, which contemporary readers would know as a clergyman, travels to Paris, supposedly on his way to Italy. However, the story develops very slowly, and for the larger part the story is set in the environs of Paris, indicated but scantily.

If the book is humourous or witty, it is not clear in which way. Supposedly, various sketches or situation would be humourous to contemporaries of Sterne but the humour is lost on contemporary readers. In fact, A sentimental journey seems a rather boring little book, and all pleasure to be had from it can only be found by studying the introduction carefully which explains where to look for it. Even then, the notes in the annotated Penguin edition merely clarified what should already be clear to the educated reader, while leaving many possible clues unexplained. ( )
  edwinbcn | Dec 23, 2013 |
Within the genre of travelogues, two approaches can be distinguished. There are those authors who describe fore-mostly the places, and the habits of the people they visit, from an anthropological point of view, and there are those who describe the people they meet on their travels from a more humanistic point of view, as equals, so to speak. An example of the first type of travelogue would be Daniel Defoe's A tour through the whole island of Great Britain, which was published in 1724. Laurence Sterne's fictional A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy was published a few decades later in 1768. By this time, travel to the continent had become fashionable.

In Sterne's A sentimental journey, his alter ego Yorick, which contemporary readers would know as a clergyman, travels to Paris, supposedly on his way to Italy. However, the story develops very slowly, and for the larger part the story is set in the environs of Paris, indicated but scantily.

If the book is humourous or witty, it is not clear in which way. Supposedly, various sketches or situation would be humourous to contemporaries of Sterne but the humour is lost on contemporary readers. In fact, A sentimental journey seems a rather boring little book, and all pleasure to be had from it can only be found by studying the introduction carefully which explains where to look for it. Even then, the notes in the annotated Penguin edition merely clarified what should already be clear to the educated reader, while leaving many possible clues unexplained. ( )
  edwinbcn | Dec 23, 2013 |
Apparently there’s a movement in literature (and probably elsewhere in the arts) called sentimentalism. I read a bit about it and didn’t really understand it. I read this and didn’t really understand it either. Sterne is not known for this particular book being much better known for his Tristram Shandy novel which I’ve not read. If this is anything to go by, I’m not looking forward to that much.

Written on his deathbed, the novelist has one last foray into Europe on the picaresque bandwagon. Having read Peregrine Pickle, I’ve been here before and felt no great longing to return.

Granted, this was a bit more polished with the humour more wry and less slapstick. But there’s only so much one can get up to on these adventures. And, as I’ve said more than once before, satire is more for your peers than posterity.

The best part of the novel was the very last line, made even more skillful by the fact that it was his last published work. He died less than a month after it was completed. ( )
  arukiyomi | Jan 2, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sterne, Laurenceprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Read, Herbert EdwardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vallvé, ManelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woolf, VirginiaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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-- They order, said I, this matter better in France --
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140430261, Mass Market Paperback)

The crimson window-curtains... were drawn close; the sun was setting, and reflected through them so warm a tint into the fair fille de chambre's face, I thought she blush'd-the idea of it made me blush myself. We were quite alone; and that super-induced a second blush before the first could get off. -from "The Temptation" Laurence Sterne's revolutionary novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1760-1767) plays with time, space, narrative conceits, and the very concept of the novel itself-it has dramatically affected the course of English-language fiction in the centuries since, with works from writers such as James Joyce and Thomas Pynchon showing his influence. A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy (1768) is the thematic sequel, a tale of a minor character from Shandy that is its own frolic of experimental fiction. Though less well known than its celebrated predecessor, this is an equally startling and frantically imaginative work from a writer some consider a comic genius. This edition also features the collection The Journal to Eliza, Sterne's impishly coy diary of a separation from his mistress, as well as numerous letters Sterne wrote to a variety of correspondents, including his wife. Irish clergyman LAURENCE STERNE (1713¬-1768) also wrote the satire A Political Romance (1759) and published volumes of his sermons.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:17 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

As the amiable Parson Yorick travels through France and Italy, he relishes his encounters with the men and women especially the pretty women he meets along the way. A novel without a typical plot, a journey without a physical destination, Sterne's witty and tender tale is a treasury of portraits, dramatic sketches, and philosophical musings.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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