Tristram Shandy

Tristram Shandy

Book - 1991
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This bawdy, high-spirited novel--whose author, Laurence Sterne, was described by Diderot as "the Rabelais of the English"--provoked a literary scandal when its first two volumes were published in 1759. A masterpiece of narrative absurdity, ribald humor, and philosophical playfulness, Tristram Shandy is famously studded with witty metafictional gambits--chapters out of order, blank and blacked-out pages, a preface that occurs in the middle of the book--that prefigured postmodernism by two centuries.
           
Tristram Shandy, the hero of this fictional autobiography, purports to narrate the story of his life, but along the way he engages in so many colorful digressions and exuberant jokes that his birth does not even occur until Volume III. In the meantime, we meet an unforgettable supporting cast of characters--including Shandy's father and mother, his uncle Toby, the servant Trim, Dr. Slop, and Parson Yorick--whose whimsical obsessions, domestic conflicts, and disastrous mishaps form the fabric of this genre-defying tour de force. With its lively exploration of both the logical limitations and the wildest possibilities of fiction, Tristram Shandy has earned its reputation as one of the greatest comic novels in English literature.

Publisher: New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1991
ISBN: 9780679405603
0679405607
Characteristics: xxix, 265, 258, 197 p. : ill. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Conrad, Peter 1948-

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h
humbleworm
Jan 10, 2018

A mostly uneventful and only mildly humorous serialized novel from the mid-1700s. Apparently "Trismagistus" (thrice-wise) is the best name ever and "Tristram" is the worst so guess what happens to the title character not even born until late in the novel.
My recommendation is that most people have better things to read. Don't bother trying to watch the 2005 film either ... it's a stylistically-similar film about trying to make a film of the novel and manages not to be about it at all.

j
jensenmk
Aug 26, 2016

What a book! Definitely not for everyone, but for those of a reflective bent who are willingly to make the effort, it's a book that's worth reading and rereading. Despite the apparently offhand character of the prose, it's not really a book for light reading, though it can be read casually as such. But even Sterne's most lighthearted comments repay rereading and reflection. The language is difficult, so a taste for the recondite is probably also a precondition of enjoying this classic, whose historical influence on Western literature has been great.

c
Claidheamohmor
Jul 11, 2011

Since Tristram Shandy has older, more verbose language, being patient with your reading and understanding of the writing can reward you with some good laughs.

v
vickiz
Nov 14, 2009

Intriguing, dense, rich and challenging, this book is ostensibly the title character's first person narrative about his life. He is easily distracted, rambles on, and contemplates everything from sex to philosophy to household mishaps. Tristram Shandy's is a lively stream of consciousness style that is decidedly precocious and modern for a book published in the mid 1700s.

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j
jensenmk
Aug 26, 2016

jensenmk thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

c
Claidheamohmor
Jul 11, 2011

Claidheamohmor thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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j
jensenmk
Aug 26, 2016

The life and opinions not of Tristram Shandy, really, but of his father Walter Shandy and his uncle Toby, his mother's brother.

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j
jensenmk
Aug 26, 2016

Sexual Content: Nothing very explicit (it was written in the 1750s and 1760s), but there are extended passages that flirt with bawdiness.

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