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The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman Paperback – March 27, 2013
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Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
From Kirkus Reviews
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Considered a classic by many, this book reminded me of a language style that may be almost obsolete in these modern, text-filled days. Read morePublished 2 months ago by T. Young
I got very tired reading this book after about 50 pagers, but I persisted for another 50 before I had had "enough". Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dan
Observant. Absurdly, obsessively observant.
Sharp characterizations. Read more
This is the third time in 55 years that I've read Tristram Shandy and it gets better every time. This edition was best of all because it has the extensive notes in the back... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Lionel D. Youst
A friend recommended this book, so I bought it. I agree that there are many funny passages and the writer certainly has a gift for writing. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Thomas T. C.
Great book. Early precursor to modern lit, even post-modern with its wry tone, author intrusion, apparent wandering mind/free-range consciousness. All good fun. Read morePublished 8 months ago by aztecthrush
I read this because I had seen it referred to as one of the greatest books of all time. I read it very carefully and even went back and re-read sections, but had a hard time fully... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Amazon Customer