Tristram Shandy, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


With a new Introduction by Cedric Watts, Research Professor of English, University of Sussex.

Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is a huge literary paradox, for it is both a novel and an anti-novel.

As a comic novel replete with bawdy humour and generous sentiments, it introduces us to a vivid group of memorable characters, variously eccentric, farcical and endearing.

As an anti-novel, it is a deliberately tantalising and exuberantly egoistic work, ostentatiously digressive, involving the reader in the labyrinthine creation of a purported autobiography.

This mercurial eighteenth-century text thus anticipates modernism and postmodernism.

Vibrant and bizarre, Tristram Shandy provides an unforgettable experience.

We may see why Nietzsche termed Sterne 'the most liberated spirit of all time'.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9781853262913


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This novel cannot be described with just a few words. Probably one cannot describe the story at all. <i>Tristram Shandy</i> - or, more accurately, <i>The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman</i> - is an attempt by said Tristram to lay down the story of his life. As the story is interrupted by countless digressions which are themselves again interrupted by digressions the 'author' comes around to relating his birth only on page 195. Actually, not much is revealed of the life of Tristram Shandy. But you get his opinions on the importance of noses, of a name, and of hobby-horses. What is more, we get to know his uncle Toby quite well throughout the story."If I should seem now and then to trifle upon the road, - or should sometimes put on a fool's cap with a bell to it, for a moment or two as we pass along, - don't fly off, - but rather courteously give me credit for a little more wisdom than appears on my outside; - and as we jog on, either laugh with me, or at me, or in short, do anything, - only keep your temper." (p. 8)I think the quotation above describes the reading experience best: You laugh with Tristram, you laugh at him, you despair at points, you wish for something else and then again you're sucked back into the book. Reading <i>Tristram Shandy</i> is anything but your usual reading. Although this is not a five star book for me, I can surely see how people would rate it with five stars easily. But on the whole, it was not completely convincing and at times it was even a struggle. I can only recommend to give it a try, though, and advise you to "keep your temper". 3.5 stars.

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