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Laurence Sterne (1713–1768)

Author of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

189+ Works 11,507 Members 155 Reviews 70 Favorited

About the Author

If Fielding showed that the novel (like the traditional epic or drama) could make the chaos of life coherent in art, Sterne only a few years later in The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1760--67) laughed away the notion of order. In Sterne's world, people are sealed off in their show more own minds so that only in unpredictable moments of spontaneous feeling are they aware of another human being. Reviewers attacked the obscenity of Tristram's imagined autobiography as it was published (two volumes each in 1759, early 1761, late 1761, 1765, and one in 1767), particularly when the author revealed himself as a clergyman, but the presses teemed with imitations of this great literary hit of the 1760s. Through the mind of the eccentric hero, Sterne subverted accepted ideas on conception, birth, childhood, education, and the contemplation of maturity and death, so that Tristram's concerns touched his contemporaries and are still important. Since Tristram Shandy is patently a great and lasting comic work that yet seems, as E. M. Forster said, "ruled by the Great God Muddle," much recent criticism has centered on the question of its unity or lack of it; and its manipulation of time and of mental processes has been considered particularly relevant to the problems of fiction in our day. Sterne's Sentimental Journey (1768) has been immensely admired by some critics for its superb tonal balance of irony and sentiment. His Sermons of Mr. Yorick (1760) catches the spirit of its time by dramatically preaching benevolence and sympathy as superior to doctrine. Whether as Tristram or as Yorick, Sterne is probably the most memorably personal voice in eighteenth-century fiction. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Includes the names: Laurence Sterne, Lawrence STERNE, Laurence Sterne

Also includes: Sterne (1)

Image credit: From Wikipedia

Works by Laurence Sterne

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759) — Author — 7,707 copies
A Political Romance (1759) 26 copies
The sermons of Mr. Yorick (1760) 20 copies
The Journal to Eliza (2012) 8 copies
Briefe und Dokumente (1965) 4 copies
Torisutoramu Shandi 001 (1969) 3 copies
Duygusal Bir Yolculuk (2015) 3 copies
Briefe (2018) 2 copies
Novels 1 copy

Associated Works

Love Letters (1996) — Contributor — 184 copies
The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction (1999) — Contributor — 151 copies
The Norton Book of Travel (1987) — Contributor — 111 copies
The Lock and Key Library (Volume 7: Oldtime English) (1909) — Contributor — 41 copies
Pathetic Literature (2022) — Contributor — 26 copies
The World's Greatest Books Volume 08 Fiction (1910) — Contributor — 24 copies
Great English Short Stories (1930) — Contributor — 20 copies
Englische Essays aus drei Jahrhunderten (1980) — Contributor — 10 copies

Tagged

1001 (62) 1001 books (69) 18th century (537) 18th century fiction (44) 18th century literature (88) anthology (54) British (189) British literature (178) classic (221) classic fiction (40) classics (238) comedy (42) ebook (46) England (125) English (126) English fiction (49) English literature (361) fiction (1,499) Folio Society (57) France (67) humor (189) Irish (62) Irish literature (52) Italy (52) Kindle (53) Laurence Sterne (52) letters (52) literature (469) metafiction (82) novel (480) own (42) Penguin Classics (41) read (60) Roman (58) satire (121) Sterne (79) to-read (547) travel (174) UK (42) unread (100)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Sterne, Laurence
Birthdate
1713-11-24
Date of death
1768-03-18
Burial location
St. Michael's Churchyard, Coxwold, Yorkshire, England, UK (reinterred 1969)
St. George's Churchyard, Hanover Square, London, England, UK
Gender
male
Nationality
Ireland (birth)
England
Birthplace
Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland
Place of death
London, England
Cause of death
tuberculosis
Places of residence
Coxwold, North Yorkshire, England, UK
Education
Jesus College, Cambridge University (BA|1737|MA|1740)
Occupations
Anglican Cleric (Deacon, 1737|Priest, 1738)
Novelist
Organizations
Church of England
Short biography
Laurence Sterne was born in Clonmel, Ireland in 1713, son of an army ensign. During his first ten years the family moved from barracks to barracks. At the age of ten, Laurence went to school in Halifax and later went on to study divinity and classics at Jesus College, Cambridge. He was ordained into the Church of England as a deacon in 1737 after graduating that year. With the help of his uncle, Dr Jaques Sterne (Precentor of York), he began to make a moderately successful ecclesiastical career. He was ordained priest in 1738 and was granted the living of Sutton-on-the-Forest, to which he added six years later the living of Stillington. He married Elizabeth Lumley in 1741 and had a daughter, Lydia – the only one of his children to survive infancy.

Two of his sermons were published in 1747 and 1750, but the publication of a satirical pamphlet in 1759 displayed his talents as a writer.

The pamphlet, A Political Romance, was suppressed; but it gave Sterne the inspiration for a more ambitious work, and he contacted the London bookseller, Robert Dodsley with the draft of one volume of a work entitled The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy. Unable to secure a guarantee of publication, Sterne revised the work and in 1759 printed and published the first two volumes of Tristram Shandy by paying for it himself and sending it to London.

Tristram Shandy was an immediate success. Sterne became famous virtually overnight and following the exhibition of his portrait painted by Joshua Reynolds became a celebrity within the first few months of the book's release.

Sterne had already published the first two volumes of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman when he came to Coxwold in 1760. He wrote the next seven volumes of Tristram Shandy and A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy while living at Shandy Hall.

His friends celebrated his success as a writer by christening his new home ‘Shandy Hall', the word Shandy being a dialect word for ‘wild, nonsensical, merry or odd'.
Alterations to the house were made by Sterne including the building of a coach house, a cellar and a box-like two-storey brick façade at the west end.

He had been afflicted all his life with illness, and travelled for his health to France, where his wife and daughter took up residence. In the last years of his life he fell in love with Eliza Draper, and wrote A Journal to Eliza after she returned to India and her husband.

Laurence Sterne died in 1768, and was buried three times: once in the graveyard of St. George's, Hanover Square; again when he was recognized after having been disinterred for anatomists; and finally, when development took place at the London burial ground, his skull and a femur were taken to Coxwold and buried outside the church where he was once the preacher.

Members

Discussions

the life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy in Folio Society Devotees (June 2022)
Laurence Sterne - Resources and General Discussion in Literary Centennials (January 2016)
Laurence Sterne - Tristram Shandy in Literary Centennials (March 2014)
Laurence Sterne - A Sentimental Journey in Literary Centennials (December 2013)
Tristram Shandy: Books 7-9 in Group Reads - Literature (February 2012)
Tristram Shandy, Books 4-6 in Group Reads - Literature (August 2011)
Tristram Shandy: Books 1-3 in Group Reads - Literature (August 2011)

Reviews

Silliness. Stuff and nonsense.
Inspired, metatextual, unbeatable silliness.
 
Flagged
therebelprince | 112 other reviews | Apr 21, 2024 |
https://fromtheheartofeurope.eu/tristram-shandy-by-laurence-sterne/

I first read Tristram Shandy when I was 23, more than thirty years ago, and still have the slightly mildewed paperback that I picked up off a Cambridge bookstall one day in late 1990. I can’t honestly tell you what happens in it; I can’t find any particular lines that resonate or are very quotable; the most memorable moment is when our hero’s penis gets caught in the windowframe in Book 5 Chapter 17. (Sorry for the spoiler.)

And yet somehow I love it. It’s rambling, self-indulgent, full of references to things I know nothing about; and at the same time the stream-of-consciousness narrative, the refusal to make many concessions to the reader who wants to know what is actually going on, are part of the charm. It’s clearly an inspiration for Joyce, Woolf, and lots of the modernist writers who I really like; but it’s a book of its own time, requiring friendly engagement and repaying that engagement with warmth and humour.
… (more)
 
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nwhyte | 112 other reviews | Feb 24, 2024 |
You almost feel that you are looking at the world through the eyes of a drunk, a very merry drunk, but a drunk all the same. This novel, Don Quixote, and John Barth's The Sot-Weed factor rank among my all-time favourites.
 
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MylesKesten | 112 other reviews | Jan 23, 2024 |
This new edition of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is the first book published by Visual Editions: a new London-based book publisher of literary fiction and non-fiction who make use of what they call "visual writing." They believe books should be as visually compelling as the stories they tell, and their strapline is "great looking stories." Their aim to publish The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman as their first title is to show where the idea of "visual writing" originated, to show where it all began. The idea is to bring out the book’s brilliance and playfulness again, to dust it down from its shoddy Dover Classics image and make it accessible and relevant again to a more contemporary audience. Visual Editions asked the designers to breathe new life into the book and told the designers to add new visual elements in as well. As long as they stayed faithful to Sterne's spirit, then VE were happy to let the designers roam. And so they did: a shut door is a folded page, perspiration is pages of dotted spot varnish and the marbled page is a moiré of a black-and-white photograph (a nod to contemporary printing technologies, in the way that the marbled page was a result of technologies of the time). British author Will Self introduces the book, with the typically wonderful irreverence that Sterne himself would have loved.… (more)
 
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petervanbeveren | 112 other reviews | Dec 15, 2023 |

Lists

AP Lit (1)
1750s (1)

Awards

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Peter Barker Narrator
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Lindsey Davis Foreword
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Rudolf Freiburg Contributor
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J Bastin Illustrator
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Abigail Coyle Cover designer
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Statistics

Works
189
Also by
17
Members
11,507
Popularity
#2,043
Rating
3.8
Reviews
155
ISBNs
484
Languages
20
Favorited
70

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