This is an excellent read and a landmark in literature written well before its time. Although the language has similarities with those of its day such as Fielding and even Samuel Richardson the way in which this comes across is much more like the modernist writings of say James Joyce. What makes this book more remarkable is that it was written about 150 years before James Joyce's `Ulysses'. The narrative is incredibly funny in places and was regarded as bawdy and a shocking at the time.
This book bowled me over when I first read it 15 years ago and has become one of me top ten books of all time. `Tristram Shandy' is an excellent, comical read and not just for those studying literature.
Melvin Bragg's radio piece on him made me revisit a novel I struggled with long ago. What an extraordinary and singular work it it. It is the most modern novel I have read. LS rips upyour ideas of conventional narrative and makes digression the driving force of his plot. If you put your prejudices aside and take a deep breath, this is a novel with vast confusing, wonderful scope.
Great Fun - even if you feel the need to skip bits or skim over other parts however much you read is so enjoyable. It's a bit like finding yourself in the 1700s and being talked to non-stop by someone who is rather eccentric, rather amusing, and definitely a bit rude - and still being interested to find out what happens next! Great fun.
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.
Fantastic book and an absolute classic, however this edition is very poor. No annotations and poor quality book. The penguin edition is definitely worth the extra couple of pounds (or is cheaper if you buy used), particularly to new readers, for whom a great deal of the jokes and references would be otherwise lost.
one of the great books and to be honest, a real struggle. nobody quite knew what a novel would be back then and it surely shows! Worth the effort and you gain serious reader kudos if you can complete it.
This book was published in the mid eighteenth century but shows so much warm insight into humanity and the oddness of people's eccentricities that it is practically timeless. It celebrates and adores its characters with a gentle, loving wicked humour and observation and a glorious playful and rich (and florid) language which is modern enough to read without too much adjustment - there are no low moments or sad parts even though it covers many events which could have been seen as traumatic. It is bawdy without being crude or explicit. It is funny enough to keep you smiling throughout. It needs to be read again and again to get the most out of every word - especially because it rambles, chops and changes its narrative in a manner which the author admits is both appalling (and a deliberate play on the florid and rambling novels of the time) and which he comments on and talks to you about as he loses his way and finds it again. If I was only ever allowed one book to read for the rest of my life it would be this one - don't miss it! The Penguin Classic Audiobook read by Steven Pacey is a superb version of what must be in the top ten of books you'd never want to read out aloud - it makes the story jump out of the page and make sense.