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Tristram Shandy.

Tristram Shandy

(1759 - 1767) A novel by Laurence Sterne, the full title of which is The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Sterne declared that his one rule was to be spontaneous and untrammeled. The novel, ostensibly a chaotic account by Tristram of his life from the time of his conception to the present, shows how much Sterne was influenced by John Locke 's theory of the irrational nature of the association of ideas. The historian, however (except for a few brief flashes), never gets beyond the second or third year of his life. In between are sandwiched his " opinions, " long - winded and philosophical reflections on everything under the sun, including his novel, and accounts of the lives of Yorick; his father, Walter Shandy; his mother; and his Uncle Toby. The form of the book is in fact the character of Tristram himself, doomed by improbably fantastic fatalities to write a hodge - podge

instead of a history, to spend two years describing one, to describe events whose chain of causation is cosmic but whose significance is comically petty for all but the exasperated historian.

For Sterne, the actual content of consciousness, what passes through the mind of the character at a given moment, " writing to the moment, " and the accompanying reactions and gestures are of primary importance.

The novel is sprinkled with many typographical eccentricities, such as a profusion of dots, dashes, asterisks, one - sentence chapters, blank pages, and unfinished sentences. See Slawkenbergius, Hafen; Trim, Corporal.

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Publication:Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia, 3rd ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1987
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