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Penguin Classics Life And Opinions Of Tristram Shandy Gentleman Paperback – Feb 25 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classic; Reissue edition (Feb. 25 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141439777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439778
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.2 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 540 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #218,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
I Wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me;1 had they duly consider'd how much depended upon what they were then doing;-that not only the production of a rational Being was concern'd in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature2 of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;-and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours3 and dispositions which were then uppermost:- Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,-I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on June 6 2009
Format: Paperback
A line from the movie "adaptation" put it best: this was a postmodern novel before there was any modernism to be post to.

Simply put, Laurence Sterne threw out all the literary conventions of what a novel should be and how it should be arranged, a few hundred years before more recent writers like Calvino, Joyce and Danielewski did. The result is "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman," a gloriously rambling, richly entertaining sort-of-novel.

"I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me." So begins Tristram, who starts his life story with his "begetting," and attempts to tell the story of his birth and life, as well as the descriptions of relatives -- his lovable uncle Toby, his eccentric dad, his patient mother (who's in labor for most of the book).

But as he tries to tell us about his life, Tristram keeps getting sidetracked by all the stories that surround him -- his uncle's romance with the Widow Wadman and the war in which he received a nasty wound in a sensitive spot, the French, the doctor who delivered him, letters in multiple languages, the parson, the personal history of the midwife, and what curses are appropriate for what occasions.

Most novels are pretty straightforward -- they have a beginning, a middle and an end. But "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" totally ignores that, by having a beginning that lasts for the whole book, dozens of "middles," and no real end (it just stops at a suitable spot). All of this is without a real structure.
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By Pierre Gauthier TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 24 2011
Format: Audio CD
This novel has the length of a Victorian work but both its vocabulary and subject matter are not at all puritan. Themes discussed include for instance intra-uterine baptism and accidental circumcision!

The running joke is that the reporter constantly digresses from his digressions and seems incapable of ever getting to his point. In this pseudo-autobiographical work, the narrator's birth finally happens only a good fourth into the book! Presumably, the intent is to be comical but the result is rather silly and even tedious to a modern reader.

Published in nine volumes in the 1760's, the novel definitely appears unstructured. It ends without any true conclusion and one feels that many more volumes could have been written and published. Anyhow, there is no plot as such and, despite the title, little is actually learned about Tristram Shandy and his life. The main characters are really his father, a superficial man with very set preconceived notions on a whole series of subjects, and his rather pathetic and anti-social uncle, marked by his war injury _ in the groin!

The author succeeds in being very original in a variety of ways: by very frequently addressing the reader, by limiting some chapters to a single sentence and even including blank ones, by making very long quotations in French and Latin or long pointless lists such as the number of streets in each of the various Paris neighbourhoods, etc.

Overall, this book can only be recommended to those interested in the history of the British novel with a marked curiosity for atypical 18th century works.
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By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on April 2 2007
Format: Paperback
A line from the movie "adaptation" put it best: this was a postmodern novel before there was any modernism to be post to.

Simply put, Laurence Sterne threw out all the literary conventions of what a novel should be and how it should be arranged, a few hundred years before more recent writers like Calvino, Joyce and Danielewski did. The result is "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman," a gloriously rambling, richly entertaining sort-of-novel.

"I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me." So begins Tristram, who starts his life story with his "begetting," and attempts to tell the story of his birth and life, as well as the descriptions of relatives -- his lovable uncle Toby, his eccentric dad, his patient mother (who's in labor for most of the book).

But as he tries to tell us about his life, Tristram keeps getting sidetracked by all the stories that surround him -- his uncle's romance with the Widow Wadman and the war in which he received a nasty wound in a sensitive spot, the French, the doctor who delivered him, letters in multiple languages, the parson, the personal history of the midwife, and what curses are appropriate for what occasions.

Most novels are pretty straightforward -- they have a beginning, a middle and an end. But "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" totally ignores that, by having a beginning that lasts for the whole book, dozens of "middles," and no real end (it just stops at a suitable spot). All of this is without a real structure.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.

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