Tristram shandy.

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Tristram shandy.

  1. 1. mar 31­20.03 1
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  4. 4. The central joke and symbol of Sternes grand comic novel is theclock, which plays a role in his heros fate from the literal momentof his conception ‐‐ an act interrupted by his mothers question tohis father, "Pray, my dear,...have you not forgot to wind up theclock? (I.I) mar 31­21.59 4
  5. 5. Space and TimeIt is two hours, and ten minutes,‐‐‐and no more,‐‐‐‐‐cried my father, looking at his watch,since Dr. Slop and Obadiah arrived,‐‐‐‐‐and I know not how it happens, Brother Toby,‐‐‐‐‐but to my imagination it seems almost an age.‐‐‐‐‐Here‐‐‐‐‐pray, Sir, take hold of my cap‐‐‐nay, take the bell along with it, and mypantoufles too.‐‐‐‐‐Now, Sir, they are all at your service; and I freely make you a present of em, on conditionyou give me all your attention to this chapter.My father, who had an itch, in common with all philosophers, of reasoning upon every thingwhich happened, and accounting for it too‐‐‐‐‐proposed infinite pleasure to himself in this, ofthe succession of ideas, and had not the least apprehension of having it snatchd out of hishands by my uncle Toby, who (honest man!) generally took every thing as it happened;‐‐‐‐‐andwho, of all things in the world, troubled his brain the least with abstruse thinking;‐‐‐the ideasof time and space,‐‐‐‐‐or how we came by those ideas,‐‐‐‐‐or of what stuff they were made,‐‐‐or whether they were born with us,‐‐‐or we picked them up afterwards as we went along,‐‐‐orwhether we did it in frocks,‐‐‐or not till we had got into breeches,‐‐‐with a thousand otherinquiries and disputes about INFINITY, PRESCIENCE, LIBERTY, NECESSITY and so forth, uponwhose desperate and unconquerable theories so many fine heads have been turned andcracked,‐‐‐never did my uncle Tobys the least injury at all; my father knew it,‐‐‐and was noless surprized than he was disappointed, with my uncles fortuitous solution.Do you understand the theory of that affair? replied my father.Not I, quoth my uncle.‐‐‐‐‐But you have some ideas, said my father, of what you talk about?‐‐‐‐‐No more than my horse, replied my uncle Toby.(III.XVIII) mar 31­22.00 5
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  10. 10. I WISH EITHER MY FATHER OR MY MOTHER, or indeed both ofthem, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, hadminded what they were about when they begot me; had theyduly consider’d how much depended upon what they werethen doing;—that not only the production of a rational Beingwas concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formationand temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and thevery cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary,even the fortunes of his whole house might take theirturn from the humours and dispositions which were thenuppermost;—Had they duly weighed and considered all this,and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I shouldhave made a quite different figure in the world, from that inwhich the reader is likely to see me.—Believe me, good folks,this is not so inconsiderable a thing as many of you maythink it;—you have all, I dare say, heard of the animal spirits,as how they are transfused from father to son, &c. &c.—and a great deal to that purpose:—Well, you may take myword, that nine parts in ten of a man’s sense or his nonsense,his successes and miscarriages in this world depend upontheir motions and activity, and the different tracks and trainsyou put them into, so that when they are once set a­going,whether right or wrong, ’tis not a half­penny matter,—awaythey go cluttering like hey­go mad; and by treading the samesteps over and over again, they presently make a road of it, asplain and as smooth as a garden­walk, which, when they areonce used to, the Devil himself sometimes shall not be ableto drive them off it.Pray my Dear, quoth my mother, have you not forgot towind up the clock?—Good G..! cried my father, making anexclamation, but taking care to moderate his voice at thesame time,—Did ever woman, since the creation of the world,interrupt a man with such a silly question? Pray, what wasyour father saying?—Nothing. mar 31­20.36 10
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  17. 17. Tristram Shandy is of those rare works of literature that seem to have been written in the wrong century. Even as the modern form of the novel was being born, Sterne was already messing with it: stepping outside the narrative to address the reader, apologizing for "losing" chapters that later showed up in their entirety, even including an all­black page to mourn the passing of one character and a blank page for the reader to fill in his own description of another.  mar 31­22.06 17
  18. 18. Sterne was a radical revolutionary as far as form is concerned. It was typical of him to lay bare the device. The aesthetic form is presentedwithout any motivation whatsoever, simply as is. The difference between the conventional novel and that of Sterne is analogous to thedifference between a conventional poem with sonorous instrumentation and a Futurist poem composed in transrational language...Upon first picking up Sterne’s Tristam Shandy, we are overwhelmed by a sense of chaos.The action constantly breaks off, the author constantly returns to the beginning or leaps forward. The main plot, not immediately accessible,is constantly interrupted by dozens of pages filled with whimsical deliberations on the influence of a person’s nose or name on his characteror else with discussions of fortifications.The book opens, as it were, in the spirit of autobiography, but soon it is deflected from its course by a description of the hero’s birth.Nevertheless, our hero, pushed aside by material interpolated into the novel, cannot, it appears, get born.Tristram Shandy turns into a description of one day. Let me quote Sterne himself:I will not finish that sentence till I have made an observation upon the strange state of affairs between the reader and myself, just as thingsstand at present‐an observation never applicable before to any one biographical writer since the creation of the world; but to myself‐and Ibelieve will never hold good to any other, until its final destruction‐and therefore, for the very novelty of it alone, it must be worth yourworships attending to.I am this month one whole year older than I was this time twelve‐month; and having got, as you perceive, almost into the middle of my fourthvolume‐and no farther than to my first day’s life‐’tis demonstrative that I have three hundred and sixty‐four days more life to write just now,than when I first set out; so that instead of advancing, as a common writer, in my work with what I have been doing at it‐on the contrary, Iam just thrown so many volumes back‐But when you examine the structure of the book more closely, you perceive first of all that this disorder is intentional. There is method toSterne’s madness. It is as regular as a painting by Picasso.Everything in the novel has been displaced and rearranged...It is common practice to assert that Tristram Shandy is not a novel. Those who speak in this way regard opera alone as true music, while asymphony for them is mere chaos.Tristram Shandy is the most typical novel in world literature.Viktor Shklovsky: from Laurence Sterne: The Novel as Parody, 1925 mar 31­22.49 18
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  21. 21. Full text Plots and charactersSpecial exhibits Critical interpretations Blogs about: Sterne LaurenceThe Body is Bawdy in Laurence Sternes "Tristram Shandy"Castration, Circumcision, and the Fear of Impotence in Laurence SterneAn introduction to Shandy Hall  mar 31­20.08 21
  22. 22. Tristram.Shandy.A.Cock.And.Bull.Story. Tristram Shandy ORGANIZATIONTom McCarthy on Tristram ShandyTristram Shandy ­ audiobook The Black Page  mar 31­20.26 22

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