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Tristram Shandy (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – 1980


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton (1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393950344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393950342
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 0.4 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 699 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #597,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.1 out of 5 stars

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 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 E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 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.
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Format: Paperback
If you read and enjoyed Don Quixote, with its endless digressions and ridiculous situations, you are likely to enjoy reading Tristram Shandy. Even if you hated reading Pamela, you may still enjoy Tristram Shandy. "Learned nonsense" describes it very well. The demands it makes on the reader, however, are comparable to those made by works such as Ulysses, Gravitys Rainbow and J.R.. The Penguin edition contains over 120 pages of notes as well as a useful "Glossary of Terms of Fortification" to help the reader along. (You just never know when you might need to know what a "circumvallation" is.) All the same, I first read T.S. in the old Signet Classic edition, ($.95) which contained virtually no annotations, and I still enjoyed it. And then there are the strange neologisms (such as "hobby-horsical"), and the even sillier names. It gets better with repeated readings and it will make you laugh. After T.S., you may want to tackle Anatomy of Melancholy. My only disappointment with T.S.: there was no mechanical duck!
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Format: Paperback
Composed long before there were rules about what a novel is supposed to look like, "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy" is a visionary piece of literature, a book so original in construction it almost defies genre. Conceived by an Anglican vicar who, under the comic influence of Rabelais and Swift and equally informed by Cervantes and Shakespeare, turned to writing fiction later in his life, it is an inadvertent masterpiece, the product of a writer who just wanted to have fun and entertain his readers and ultimately entertained generations.
The book is not a fictitious autobiography, although its narrator Tristram Shandy might have intended it to be; most of the story is concerned not with his life but with his idiosyncratic family and the circumstances surrounding his conception and birth, with many digressions on various related and unrelated subjects. His father Walter, whose conjugal duties coincide with his having to wind the clock the first Sunday of every month, compiles a compendium of information he calls the Tristrapoedia for the education of his newborn son. His uncle Toby, an expert in military architecture, rides a hobby-horse and occupies his time with the science of besieging fortresses. Other characters include Corporal Trim, a former soldier and now Toby's valet and factotum; Dr. Slop, a dwarfish physician who delivers the baby Tristram; and Yorick the parson, who naturally is descended from the infamous jester of the Danish royal court.
There are two aspects to this book that distinguish Sterne's style.
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