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A sentimental journey through France and Italy Hardcover – 1899

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Review


"Great literature, splendidly edited and potently introduced." --Albert Wachtel, Pitzer College


--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

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. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 442 pages
  • Publisher: Sands & Co (1899)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0008985C8
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By mp on August 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
Laurence Sterne's 1768 novel, "A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy," is a strange and largely plotless book - less the recounting of a journey than of Parson Yorick's ramblings. Following the wildly successfuly, and no less diffuse "Tristram Shandy," Sterne crafts a much smaller, but no less intense work, recounting the misadventures of Parson Yorick, himself a character in the earlier novel. Labelling himself a 'sentimental traveler,' Yorick's account of his travels is not descriptive, but emotive, revealing his conflicted, if warm-hearted psychology.
The novel begins abruptly in the middle of a conversation between Yorick and his servant over a French policy in the eighteenth century of seizing the property of a foreigner who dies in France. Eager to discover the truth of the matter, Yorick impulsively throws a few shirts in a bag and before the next day ends, lands in Calais, France. Upon his arrival, his initial purpose, like many which he determines on in the course of the book, is forgotten, as his mind drifts from topic to topic as things and people happen to cross his sight. What remains of the novel are a series of pathetic and amorous adventures, in which Yorick's senses of morality, propriety, and common sense are brought into constant conflict with his impetuous nature and good humored guile.
Sterne is too intelligent and expert a writer to allow sentiment, what we might call sappy nonsense, to rule the day in his novel, and the scrapes Yorick get himself into are as much a critique of pure sentiment as an exploration of the uses and practicality of human sympathy.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This autobiographical acount by Sterne of his amorous progress through France and Northern Italy is surely one of the most delightful books ever written. Composed as he lay dying of tuberculosis, the book nonetheless encaptures the author's renowned zest for life as well as the libertine spirit of the age in which he lived. The journey down through France to Northern Italy is the perfect vehicle for an excursion into the nature of human sensibility, and from the moment that this cultured Anglo-Irish cleric sets foot in Calais, the reader is treated to a seies of exquisite encounters with the fairer sex. Rarely has an author transmitted so well his understanding of the psychological complexity of women, or the pleasure he takes in their company. Engaging, perceptive and witty, this is a book whiich cannot fail to leave an imprint on the imagination.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Benedict on May 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
I wish I could go around France and Italy and chat it up like this fellow does.

I also wish I could write like him. Every once in a while I run across a writer who can really tell a tale and uses English as a painter uses oils.

Ben
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 16, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sterne befuddles and delights readers and critics alike in A Sentimental Journey. He takes the fashionable travel log of the time and satarizes it. Contemporary critics had a fit over its supposedly bawdy nature, yet some modern readers may over look its sublte innuendo. The form of the novel is quite unlike anything that had preceeded it, thus is important for any scholars. Most importanly, however, the book is funny and fun to read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Don Herzog on September 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Five stars for Sterne. No, a hundred stars. The wit is irresistible.

But the Penguin Kindle edition is a train wreck, full of broken and misspelled words. I had a hard time reading it and ended up annoyed instead of delighted.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Scanlon VINE VOICE on August 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
a similar seemingly pointless but profoundly significant AND FUNNY epic delivered under the guise of a trivial travelogue, written by a fellow Irishman. Nice to know Joyce read his Sterne as well as his daily newspaper while traveling in Trieste.

This parody must be read and enjoyed on its own terms. Recent academic commentaries are helpful in understanding, a fact which does not detract from this work.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on November 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Even for modern readers, "A Sentimental Journey" (published 1768)is as startlingly innovative as Sterne's celebrated "Tristram Shandy". Sterne's ability to crystallize the minute details of experience - which may be down to a few seconds only - is reminiscent of Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse". Indeed, Woolf admired this book.

This is by no means an easy read. The 18th-century prose is difficult; the book is larded with Frenchisms and Biblical or classical allusions; the complex, slow narrative often requires re-reading. But the rewards are great! It's wise, deeply comical, and incredibly perceptive.

There are several helpful reviews below dealing with the aspect of "sentimentality", and so I will just single out two things which appealed to me:

1. STERNE AND BODY LANGUAGE. Sterne shows an almost 20th-century appreciation of body language. In fact, I believe he might have been the first to identify it as such. His chapter, "The Translation", highlights the importance of being able to interpret subtle physical hints, like a language: "There is not a secret so aiding to the progress of sociality, as to get master of this _shorthand_, and be quick in rendering the several turns of looks and limbs, with all their inflections and delineations, into plain words." How visionary!

2. STERNE AND THE FRENCH. Ever since Shakespeare inserted a scene in "cod French" into _Henry V_, actually ever since the Norman Conquest and up to Monty Python and beyond, the English have revelled in mocking the French and their language. His Continental travelling gives Sterne the perfect excuse to do this.
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