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Tristram Shandy (Penguin English Library) Paperback – 25 Oct 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (25 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141199997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141199993
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 332,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A lot of nonsense is written about Laurence Sterne's "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" -- and that's just as well. It would be depressing in the extreme if this triumphant tangling up of the threads of reason with the strands of linear narrative were to admit of any effective unravelling; which is as much to say, that were you to find yourself picking apart a lucid, non-discursive exposition of the novel - its themes, its techniques, its plot -- you would know that you had finally gone mad." --Will Self --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Born in Clonmel, Ireland, in 1713, Laurence Sterne spent the first ten years of his life moving from place to place within Ireland and also Yorkshire, as his father, an army ensign, was assigned and reassigned constantly. Educated at a grammar school near Halifax, Sterne took a place at Jesus College, Cambridge in 1733, two years after his father died of a fever in Jamaica. Going on to become a clergyman, he published four sermons during his lifetime - but it was for his literary works that he earned great acclaim, particularly The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, his nine-volume masterpiece, which made him a celebrity. Dogged by ill-health for much of his life, he took various recuperative trips to the continent, the experience of which formed the experience behind his final work, A Sentimental Journey, published barely three weeks before his death in London in 1768 at the age of fifty-four.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Jun. 1999
Format: Comic
The fragmentary structure of _TS_ is ideally suited to Rowson's comic-book reinterpretation. This accomplished editorial cartoonist pokes fun at 'heritage' illustration and costume drama, instead matching Sterne's words with his lively images and contemporary, knowing commentary. Though he shows an affectionate regard for the original, Rowson is not afraid to bring to his own work a brand of mockery not far from Sterne's.
In comparison with John Baldessari's recent photo-collages illustrating the same novel, Rowson is much funnier, more accessible, and more faithful to the original.
A very funny, very successful re-interpretation of this sometimes difficult classic. Rotund Walter Shandy is a particulary appealing figure.
Contains some (justified) obscenity.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Concerned father on 29 Aug. 2003
Format: Paperback
The augustan enlightenment period of English literature is one of my least favourite; I do not enjoy Dr Johnson, Thomas Gray, and Defoe isn't a great novelist. Which is why I was so surprised by this 'novel', bursting at the seams with a restless comic energy - and it was written by a clergyman! This is the bawdiest of the bawdy, but not low brow in any way. Sterne reinvents the novel as a sea of possibilities, exploiting even the forms limitations. He is a master of illusion, and constantly mocks the reader in good spirit, playing with time scales and propriety. Anybody who likes Swift will be knocked out by this; Sterne outdoes the master of satire at every turn.
The central irony of the novel is that the narrator is meant to tell us his life story, but does not even get born until the fourth volume, as he digresses further and further from the starting point of his conception. This novel embodies the creative process, and is most probably the most creatively 'free' work ever written. Sterne destroys all preconceptions, and sets limits only where he can go no further.
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61 of 66 people found the following review helpful By T. Gambrell on 13 Jun. 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What Laurence Sterne has given us in 'Tristram Shandy' is a landmark piece of prose writing, and what Penguin have done is to re-package that in an edition of equal status. The text follows the established 'Florida' edition of Sterne's work, and the editor Melvin New is right to acknowledge the scholarly importance of Christopher Ricks introduction to the previous Penguin edition, hence it is reprinted here along with New's up to date and equally copious editor's introduction. Thus we have two critical essays by major scholars covering much of what has been written and said about 'Tristram Shandy' for the last 50 years or so. Add to that a glossary and over a hundred pages of notes and annotations to clarify the text's obscurities and references and you've already got more than your money's worth before you've got to the text proper. And what a text too. It isn't by any means to everyone's taste, and some may think it a complete waste of six hundred-odd pages, but herein lies its charm. Yes, it doesn't really get anywhere, and yes it does do odd things like printing squiggly lines and black pages, but it is just this breaking of convention and questioning of novel writing that gives it its power - and humour. It has long been established that what Postmodern authors have been praised for in the last 30 years or so Sterne was doing in the 1760s. And here it is displayed with such exuberance and wit. This is a very funny book, even now, over 300 years later, and it is easy to see how it caused such a stir in a society which was rapidly becoming affected and prudish, with its sexual innuendo. A must for scholars and lovers of Eighteenth Century writing, humour and curiosities. Incredible value and not to be missed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By N. Barker on 4 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
At a cursory glance, Sterne's book appears to be a novel in the traditional sense; an in-depth character study of a central protagonist. A closer look reveals the title to be the first of many traps laid to ambush the unwary reader; this exuberant comedy is a far-cry from the orderly prescriptive narratives of contemporary novels. An eccentric oddity and a masterful challenge to the expectations of its readers, Tristram Shandy is a shrewd exposition of the limitations of the novel, a form still very much in its infancy in Sterne's lifetime. Misleadingly entitled Life and Opinions, the story scarcely progresses beyond the superbly hectic first day of Tristram's life. Instead we are presented with a multiplication of beginnings until the entire book appears to be nothing more than an introductory prologue to an unattainable and continuously deferred book called Life and Opinions. The reader happily renounces himself to Sterne's method of riddle and bafflement as he navigates this cock and bull story where bawdy anecdotes are told out of order, memories are cut-off and fragmentary, and the suggestion of a single word causes page after page of absurd digression. Experience of the perceptible world resists being written and the profusion of typographical blanks, expletives, chaotic stage-business, and innuendo continually hint at what is not being said. However Sterne's gallery of eccentrics is made real through the charming characterisations of Uncle Toby, Dr Slop, and the Widow Wadman. An incredible book with an un-credible tale at its centre, Tristram Shandy is the best example in the canon of textual trickery and self-consciousness before the form's more lasting re-emergence in the 20th century. Innovative and amazingly modern in outlook, Sterne's masterpiece will be enjoyed by any reader who dares to delve into this riotous and entertaining tale.
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