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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, a fictional autobiography of the eponymous narrator, contains—perhaps surprisingly—little about either his life or opinions, but what it does have is a meandering journey through the adventures of his close family and their associates. The book is famous for being more about the explanatory diversions and rabbit-holes that the narrator takes us down than the actual happenings he set out to describe, but in doing so he paints a vivid picture of the players and their personal stories.
Published two volumes at a time over the course of eight years, Tristram Shandy was an immediate commercial success although not without some confusion among critics. Sterne’s exploration of form that pushed at the contemporary limits of what could be called a novel has been hugely influential, garnering admirers as varied as Marx, Schopenhauer, Joyce, Woolf and Rushdie. The book has been translated into many other languages and adapted for the stage, radio, and film.
About Laurence Sterne
Laurence Sterne (24 November 1713 – 18 March 1768), an Anglo-Irish novelist and Anglican cleric, wrote the novels The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, published sermons and memoirs, and indulged in local politics. He grew up in a military family travelling mainly in Ireland but briefly in England. An uncle paid for Sterne to attend Hipperholme Grammar School in the West Riding of Yorkshire, as Sterne's father was ordered to Jamaica, where he died of malaria some years later. He attended Jesus College, Cambridge on a sizarship, gaining bachelor's and master's degrees. While Vicar of Sutton-on-the-Forest, Yorkshire, he married Elizabeth Lumley in 1741. His ecclesiastical satire A Political Romance infuriated the church and was burnt. With his new talent for writing, he published early volumes of his best-known novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Sterne travelled to France to find relief from persistent tuberculosis, documenting his travels in A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, published weeks before his death. His posthumous Journal to Eliza addresses Eliza Draper, for whom he had romantic feelings. Sterne died in 1768 and was buried in the yard of St George's, Hanover Square. His body was said to have been stolen after burial and sold to anatomists at Cambridge University, but recognised and reinterred. His ostensible skull was found in the churchyard and transferred to Coxwold in 1969 by the Laurence Sterne Trust.
Other books by Laurence Sterne
A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy by Mr. YorickLaurence Sterne and Gardner D. Stout Jr.
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (with an Introduction by Wilbur L. Cross)Laurence Sterne
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Barnes & Noble Digital Library)Laurence Sterne and Judith Hawley
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