Tristram Shandy – Book I

One of the novels I missed off my classics-to-be-read list was Tristram Shandy. Yes, I never have read it – though, having now got under way and since I’ve previously read A Sentimental Journey (which has the same basic joke), in some ways I might as well have claimed to have read it.

Thoughts so far, having read Book I:

  • I know Sterne’s influence is vast: – metafiction, modernism and all; – but if there’s one other writer who comes out of these pages, then it’s – Dickens. – Perhaps it’s just that he seems to have stolen many of Sterne’s jokes. – But perhaps some of you won’t understand the above claim (or my even more heterodox claim, that there’s often no-one Faulkner reminds me more of than Dickens) [ed. the rest of this point was deleted because the ideas were too good to waste on a booksblog like this].
  • I’ve forgotten my second point now. [ed. Oh yes, I remember: – I have two interests actually in reading Sterne – aside, that is, from merely reading Sterne. a) to read some other books that were heavily influenced by Sterne (mostly with titles beginning, “The Life and Opinions of…”; and b) to read some other books which apparently influenced Sterne. ( – What’s that you say? – But surely Sterne, if no one else, was an original writer! – Where will this ever end, if we keep going backwards in time?) – Not merely Cervantes, who has been much mentioned so far in the text, but I’ve got a few other ideas which I’ve picked up here and there – books by writers who are not so well known these days)]

Well, back to reading. – Maybe Tristram Shandy will actually be born soon, eh?

5 thoughts on “Tristram Shandy – Book I

  1. Well, let me inscribe my comment here – but wait, my glass must be charged with ardent spirits – where is that wretched maid? I saw her today walking – gliding – about the kitchen gardens – when she paused and pulled down – d–n it, I have dropp’d my pipe on my breeches! The fires of H–l can not burn as fierce! Now, where was I? Yes, the maid – a most comely lass – pulled down a branch and plucked a fruit from it – and she turned, like a French dancer – and I saw she had a lovely – pear. Mr Obooki, I pray you call at Shandy Hall – open every other Tuesday – 2pm to 4pm. Admission – 10 guineas.

  2. I’ve tried to read Tristram Shandy 3 times and never seem to progress beyond about page 50. Yet for some reason I feel enormously well-disposed towards it and don’t rule out a fourth go.

    Why I have no idea.

    I note it has taken me 3 weeks to get here. How has that happened? Take a pew and I will explain…..etc.etc.etc. ( runs out of puff on page 49 )

  3. Never mind, Ed, I don’t think anything happens in the remaining 600 pages. I’ve taken a break at the end of book 2; I’ll probably pick it up again in the New Year – I’m not expecting I’ll have lost the thread of the narrative, at least.

    My book I’m struggling with – which I also think is marvellous – is Andrei Bely’s Petesburg. This is my second attempt in two years, I’m up to page 150 this time (about halfway) and determined to finish it off before year end.

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