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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – April 19, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (April 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048645648X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486456485
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Rowson, an illustrator whose version of T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland met with critical praise, turns his considerable skills to Laurence Sterne's 18th-century classic. This appears a sure bet: a new reading of a well-known book. Yet, the novel doesn't make the transition into the graphic format smoothly. Rowson's admiration for Tristram Shandy hinders this graphic version, causing him to rely on the text rather than the illustrations to pace the story. Moreover, this book becomes not only another version of Tristram Shandy but a commentary on reading it as several celebrities wend their way through the plot, which includes a hypothetical game of strip poker between Sterne, Swift, and Rabelais and the filming of the novel by movie producer Oliver Stone. Too complex for those unfamiliar with the original, this is nonetheless recommended for libraries with large graphic novel and literature collections.?Stephen Weiner, Maynard P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Rowson's graphic novel of Laurence Sterne's famous ``cock and bull'' story (often called the first modern novel) will disappoint readers looking for a ``Classic Comics'' crib version. Which is, of course, the very strength of this wickedly inventive re-creation of Sterne's notoriously self-reflexive book. Employing a visual style that blends Hogarth with Gilbert Shelton (of Furry Freak Bros. fame), Rowson himself shows up on the page for some meta-level commentary of his own, and reimagines scenes from Sterne in the styles of Drer, Beardsley, Grosz, and George Harriman, not to mention one from Oliver Stone's movie version. Rowson also rewrites key passages in the manner of Martin Amis, Raymond Chandler, and Garc¡a M rquez (among others). Tackling such an inherently unadaptable novel, Rowson nevertheless selects many of the most memorable sections for extended visualizations: Tristram's birth and naming, Uncle Toby's famous wound and hobbyhorse, and the history of family noses. All provide occasion for Sterne's bawdy, which Rowson makes somewhat more explicit. As critical commentary and scholarly play, this rude and splendid comic book will delight true Shandeans. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

230 of 239 people found the following review helpful By A.J. on April 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
Composed long before there were rules about what a novel is supposed to look like, "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy" is a visionary piece of literature, a book so original in construction it almost defies genre. Conceived by an Anglican vicar who, under the comic influence of Rabelais and Swift and equally informed by Cervantes and Shakespeare, turned to writing fiction later in his life, it is an inadvertent masterpiece, the product of a writer who just wanted to have fun and entertain his readers and ultimately entertained generations.
The book is not a fictitious autobiography, although its narrator Tristram Shandy might have intended it to be; most of the story is concerned not with his life but with his idiosyncratic family and the circumstances surrounding his conception and birth, with many digressions on various related and unrelated subjects. His father Walter, whose conjugal duties coincide with his having to wind the clock the first Sunday of every month, compiles a compendium of information he calls the Tristrapoedia for the education of his newborn son. His uncle Toby, an expert in military architecture, rides a hobby-horse and occupies his time with the science of besieging fortresses. Other characters include Corporal Trim, a former soldier and now Toby's valet and factotum; Dr. Slop, a dwarfish physician who delivers the baby Tristram; and Yorick the parson, who naturally is descended from the infamous jester of the Danish royal court.
There are two aspects to this book that distinguish Sterne's style.
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68 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Frikle on January 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
This work is OLD but reads like the most innovative avant-garde novel of today. The book is about Tristram Shandy and his birth, his uncle and his war wound and his father with his love of names and noses. Seriously! This is the original story-with-no-story and the beauty of the book is in the way that it's written. In reality, Sterne talks about anything and everything. He makes digressions lasting 20 odd pages, rambles to the reader, apologises for rambling, then discusses how he plans to get the story finally under way.
The book is out of order chronologically. One of the funniest things about the book is that it's meant to be an autobiography of the fictional Tristram. Half the book is spent telling the story of the day of his birth. Then, the author moves to another scene, mainly revolving around Tristram's uncle Toby and the novel finishes several years before Tristram's birth.
Sterne's writing is chaotic resembling a stream of consciousness. Sentences run onto the other, there's heaps of dashes and asterisks being used for various purposes. Sterne adds scribbles to signify the mood of the character. When one character dies, to symbolise his end, Sterne has a black page to describe it. When introducing a beautiful female character, Sterne says he can't be bothered describing her so he leaves a blank page for the reader to draw his/her own rendition.
The book - though technically not a satire - in the process of going nowhere and saying nothing makes fun of many religious, political and societal topics. Sterne was a minister but from the book it can be gleaned that he was a particularly irreverent one.
The work is divided into 9 books, published serially. This is a work where you can just pick up a chapter and read it. Some are several pages. Others are two lines.
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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Phutatorius on July 3, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you read and enjoyed Don Quixote, with its endless digressions and ridiculous situations, you are likely to enjoy reading Tristram Shandy. Even if you hated reading Pamela, you may still enjoy Tristram Shandy. "Learned nonsense" describes it very well. The demands it makes on the reader, however, are comparable to those made by works such as Ulysses, Gravitys Rainbow and J.R.. The Penguin edition contains over 120 pages of notes as well as a useful "Glossary of Terms of Fortification" to help the reader along. (You just never know when you might need to know what a "circumvallation" is.) All the same, I first read T.S. in the old Signet Classic edition, ($.95) which contained virtually no annotations, and I still enjoyed it. And then there are the strange neologisms (such as "hobby-horsical"), and the even sillier names. It gets better with repeated readings and it will make you laugh. After T.S., you may want to tackle Anatomy of Melancholy. My only disappointment with T.S.: there was no mechanical duck!
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Phil Moores on September 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
I'm so glad I didn't do English Lit at college. I've just read the customer reviews of this wonderful book and seen how being forced to read something you wouldn't normally read makes you bitter, twisted and intent on ensuring no-one else gets pleasure out of it. It also makes you cemented in your opinion that if you don't like it, it must have no redeeming feature (after, all "I did a degree in Eng Lit, so I must know what I'm talking about"). All great difficult books suffer from this -- Ulysses, At Swim-Two-Birds, Lanark, The Trial, and that's just the 20th century. Oh well. People should read what they want, when they want: they should also accept that there is little out there with no value, it's taste that causes us to like different things.
That said, what do I think of it? I think it's one of the most fun reads there is, once you get yourself back into an 18thC mode of reading (MTV has so much to answer for with our attention spans). Also, forget all this bunk about it being postmodern or deliberately experimenting with the novel. When this was written, there WAS no novel, that came in the 19thC. Before this there was Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe and little else that could be called a novel. All Sterne was doing was writing to entertain, and that he does marvelously. He had no boundaries to push - they weren't there - so he made his own (and they just happened to be a long way away from where he originally sat).
Anyway -- if you like the idea of a book that coined the phrase "cock and bull story", includes blank pages to show discretion when two characters make love, that draws wiggling lines indicating the authors impression of the amount of digression in the previous pages, you'll love it. But just stop if you don't like it, instead of perseveering and then taking it out on everyone.
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