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Penguin Classics Sentimental Journey [Paperback]

Laurence Sterne , Paul Goring
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

June 28 2005 Penguin Classics
A furiously witty response to Tobias Smollett's curmudgeonly "Travels through France and Italy", Laurence Sterne's "A Sentimental Journey" through France and Italy became a hugely influential work of travel writing in its own right. This "Penguin Classics" edition includes an introduction and notes by Paul Goring. When Yorick, the roving narrator of Sterne's innovative final novel, sets off for France on a whim, he produces no ordinary travelogue. Jolting along in his coach from Calais, through Paris, and on towards the Italian border, the amiable parson is blithely unconcerned by famous views or monuments, but he engages us with tales of his encounters with all manner of people, from counts and noblewomen to beggars and chambermaids. And as drama piles upon drama, anecdote, flirtation and digression, Yorick's destination takes second place to an exhilarating voyage of emotional and erotic exploration. Interweaving sharp wit with warm humour and irony with genuine feeling, "A Sentimental Journey" paints a captivating picture of an Englishman's adventures abroad. In his introduction, Paul Goring discusses Sterne's literary career and his semi-autobiographical depiction of Yorick, and sets the novel within the context of eighteenth-century travel writing and the vogue of sentimental fiction. This edition also includes a chronology, updated further reading and notes. Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) graduated from Cambridge in 1737 and took holy orders, becoming a prebend in York Cathedral. His masterpiece, "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" made him a celebrity but ill-health necessitated recuperative travel and "A Sentimental Journey" grew out of a seven-month trip through France and Italy. He died the year it was published, 1768. If you enjoyed "A Sentimental Journey", you might like Sterne's "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman", also available in "Penguin Classics".

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About the Author

Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) was born in Ireland. After graduating from Cambridge University, he took holy orders. His masterpiece, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, made him a celebrity, but ill health necessitated recuperative travel, and A Sentimental Journey grew out of a seven-month trip through France. He died the year it was published.

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THEY order, said I, this matter better in France--You have been in France? said my gentleman, turning quick upon me with the most civil triumph in the world. Read the first page
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Strange, But Very Human Little Novel Aug. 6 2002
By mp
Format:Paperback
Laurence Sterne's 1768 novel, "A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy," is a strange and largely plotless book - less the recounting of a journey than of Parson Yorick's ramblings. Following the wildly successfuly, and no less diffuse "Tristram Shandy," Sterne crafts a much smaller, but no less intense work, recounting the misadventures of Parson Yorick, himself a character in the earlier novel. Labelling himself a 'sentimental traveler,' Yorick's account of his travels is not descriptive, but emotive, revealing his conflicted, if warm-hearted psychology.
The novel begins abruptly in the middle of a conversation between Yorick and his servant over a French policy in the eighteenth century of seizing the property of a foreigner who dies in France. Eager to discover the truth of the matter, Yorick impulsively throws a few shirts in a bag and before the next day ends, lands in Calais, France. Upon his arrival, his initial purpose, like many which he determines on in the course of the book, is forgotten, as his mind drifts from topic to topic as things and people happen to cross his sight. What remains of the novel are a series of pathetic and amorous adventures, in which Yorick's senses of morality, propriety, and common sense are brought into constant conflict with his impetuous nature and good humored guile.
Sterne is too intelligent and expert a writer to allow sentiment, what we might call sappy nonsense, to rule the day in his novel, and the scrapes Yorick get himself into are as much a critique of pure sentiment as an exploration of the uses and practicality of human sympathy.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Strange, But Very Human Little Novel Aug. 6 2002
By mp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Laurence Sterne's 1768 novel, "A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy," is a strange and largely plotless book - less the recounting of a journey than of Parson Yorick's ramblings. Following the wildly successfuly, and no less diffuse "Tristram Shandy," Sterne crafts a much smaller, but no less intense work, recounting the misadventures of Parson Yorick, himself a character in the earlier novel. Labelling himself a 'sentimental traveler,' Yorick's account of his travels is not descriptive, but emotive, revealing his conflicted, if warm-hearted psychology.
The novel begins abruptly in the middle of a conversation between Yorick and his servant over a French policy in the eighteenth century of seizing the property of a foreigner who dies in France. Eager to discover the truth of the matter, Yorick impulsively throws a few shirts in a bag and before the next day ends, lands in Calais, France. Upon his arrival, his initial purpose, like many which he determines on in the course of the book, is forgotten, as his mind drifts from topic to topic as things and people happen to cross his sight. What remains of the novel are a series of pathetic and amorous adventures, in which Yorick's senses of morality, propriety, and common sense are brought into constant conflict with his impetuous nature and good humored guile.
Sterne is too intelligent and expert a writer to allow sentiment, what we might call sappy nonsense, to rule the day in his novel, and the scrapes Yorick get himself into are as much a critique of pure sentiment as an exploration of the uses and practicality of human sympathy. Sterne is playing with a recent tradition of moral philosophy, including the likes of such authors as Shaftesbury and Adam Smith, the latter of whose "Theory of Moral Sentiments" (1759) was at the forefront of popularizing and pragmatizing fellow-feeling. Sterne uses the excitable and impulsive Yorick to play with these ideas, along with those of his acquaintance, David Hume, whose notions of moral aesthetics marked a radical departure from the aforementioned predecessors. Out of all of these high flown philosophical traditions, Sterne fashions a witty and clever series of scenarios - from eating with peasants, bantering with a monk, flirting with a married woman while her husband indifferently watches, and nearly getting thrown in the Bastille - all display a very human look at the world.
Encounters between Yorick and various classes and characters in France illustrate the distance between theory and practice in terms of implementing any kind of systematic philosophy - even, and especially for a man of the cloth, like our protagonist. Yorick means well most of the time, which makes his faults and foibles all the more endearing and amusing. By his own admission, Yorick is constantly falling in love, perhaps to give his bachelor life some sense of chivalric purpose, but when he starts falling in love with every chamber-maid and noblewoman in France, we begin to question, not only his sincerity, but the capacity of his sexual and emotional appetites. It makes for hilarious episodes, especially when his French servant, La Fleur, is dragged into the middle of them.
A forerunner of the focused genre of sentimental fiction like Mackenzie's "The Man of Feeling" and the more refined imaginative sensibilities of many Romantic Era authors, Sterne's little novel, along with "Tristram Shandy" made immediate cultural impact, not only in England, but throughout Europe. Sometimes confusing, often amusing, reading Sterne's "Sentimental Journey" is a great way to while away a summer afternoon.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I wish May 30 2006
By Benedict - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I wish I could go around France and Italy and chat it up like this fellow does.

I also wish I could write like him. Every once in a while I run across a writer who can really tell a tale and uses English as a painter uses oils.

Ben
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GREATGRANDFATHER OF JAMES JOYCE ULYSSES Aug. 2 2006
By C. Scanlon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
a similar seemingly pointless but profoundly significant AND FUNNY epic delivered under the guise of a trivial travelogue, written by a fellow Irishman. Nice to know Joyce read his Sterne as well as his daily newspaper while traveling in Trieste.

This parody must be read and enjoyed on its own terms. Recent academic commentaries are helpful in understanding, a fact which does not detract from this work.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars mangled classic Sept. 21 2012
By Don Herzog - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Five stars for Sterne. No, a hundred stars. The wit is irresistible.

But the Penguin Kindle edition is a train wreck, full of broken and misspelled words. I had a hard time reading it and ended up annoyed instead of delighted.
3.0 out of 5 stars My Problem, Not Sterne's Feb. 5 2014
By Anne Mills - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Sometimes, I read a book that is widely acclaimed as a classic, a masterpiece, a part of the literary canon, and my reaction is "Eh", or possibly "Meh". That's how I responded to "A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy", after struggling though all 80 pages of it. Now consider, this book was a hit after it was published in 1768, and has been finding readers for almost 250 years. When something like this happens, I assume that the problem isn't with the novel, it's with me. That assumption is reinforced by all the glowing reviews here and elsewhere; when I am that far out of step, best to ignore me.

I couldn't get involved in the book, but that may be because I depend too much on narrative tension, and not enough on just being there. Also, I couldn't figure out what was going on at times: again, I may be too literal. Goethe's "Sorrows of Young Werther" had the same impact (or lack of impact) on me: perhaps 18th century sentimentality is just beyond my ken. For those who like this sort of thing, this is clearly the sort of thing they like. Hats off to them: I am not up to it.
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