The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman Paperback
Edited by Joan New, Melvyn New
Endlessly digressive, boundlessly imaginative and unmatched in its absurd and timeless wit, Laurence Sterne's "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" is edited with an introduction by Melvin New and Joan New, and includes a critical essay by Christopher Ricks in "Penguin Classics".
Laurence Sterne's great masterpiece of bawdy humour and rich satire defies any attempt to categorize it, with a rich metafictional narrative that might classify it as the first 'postmodern' novel.
Part novel, part digression, its gloriously disordered narrative interweaves the birth and life of the unfortunate 'hero' Tristram Shandy, the eccentric philosophy of his father Walter, the amours and military obsessions of Uncle Toby, and a host of other characters, including Dr Slop, Corporal Trim and the parson Yorick.
A joyful celebration of the endless possibilities of the art of fiction, Tristram Shandy is also a wry demonstration of its limitations.
The text and notes of this volume are based on the acclaimed Florida Edition, with a critical introduction by Melvyn New and Christopher Ricks' introductory essay from the first "Penguin Classics" edition. Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) graduated from Cambridge in 1737 and took holy orders, becoming a prebend in York Cathedral.
His masterpiece, "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" made him a celebrity but ill-health necessitated recuperative travel and "A Sentimental Journey" grew out of a seven-month trip through France and Italy.
If you enjoyed "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy", you might like Henry Fielding's "Tom Jones", also available in "Penguin Classics". "The excellent Florida Tristram Shandy...will be the definitive edition". (Studies in English Literature). "The book that I would never tire of...Sterne was about 250 years ahead of his time". (Roy Porter, author of "Enlightenment: Britain And The Creation Of The Modern World").
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 784 pages, chronology, glossary, notes
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 27/03/2003
- Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780141439778
Showing 1 - 5 of 12 reviews.
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Review by PaulMysterioso
I'm not certain what it is about Irish writers and their wonderfully eccentirc sense of humour and their ability to turn conventional writing inside out and produce something rich and strange. Swift, Joyce, O'Brien, Beckett and Laurence Sterne are all in a lineage.The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is a classic comic novel, written as an autobiography of Tristram Shandy, it is really about his uncle Toby and from the beginning, the novel takes wild digressions which, by the time you finish the novel, lead you right back to where you started.
Review by kbergfeld
Brilliantly fun! The post modern book before there was post modernism. Quite a lot of fun, but I do highly recommend reading this with a group as the humor is one that is fun to share and laugh out loud with, but also helps clarify points.
Review by isabelx
Review by kritikarr
One of my all-time favourite novels! You would not believe it was written in the 18th century for all the literary experiments it contains (black pages, crazy lines to illustrate the plot development...). Some readers may be frustrated with the rambling narrative, but if it suits your sense of humour like it does mine, you will love it. Really, it's just stark raving mad! Suck it, Martin Amis! This classic kicks some postmodern ass...
Review by librarianbryan
Sorry, I could not finish this. I made it to about page 250. Which was better than anyone else in my book club. I felt better knowing no one else could finish it either.The same joke — 18th century English gentry’s formal speech is funny ha ha ha — for 600-800 pages depending on the edition you pick up is a bit much. Maybe there was something of a language gap? Yes, but everyone in my book club agreed that when we read Shakespeare we don’t have the same problem. When we read Grandpa Willie we read it and laugh and are amazed. Not so much with Sterne. I chuckled through first 30 pages and the rest was grind. It’s worth noting Shandy was originally published in installments so no one in the 18th century was hitting an 800 page monster.I admit there is probably a lot more going on thematically than I realize since I didn’t finish. Sometimes the aboutness of a work grows like a benign tumor (or maybe a malignant tumor in the case of a book like <i>Infinite Jest</i>). I reluctantly acknowledge my ignorance and bow out. I wouldn’t feel so bad about myself if the book I am reading in lieu of finishing <i>Shandy</i> wasn’t John Krakauer’s book about Pat Tillman. It feels low. Maybe that is not so bad. Maybe that is like choosing to watch <i>Frontline</i> over <i>Masterpiece Theatre</i>.
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