Tristram Shandy - Review

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  • Topic: Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, Novel
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  • Published : November 7, 2012
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Introduction
'The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy' is a novel written by Laurence Sterne, which was published in nine volumes from 1759 until the author's untimely death in 1767. Although classified as an 18th century novel, Tristram Shandy does not fit the proverbial box of the era. The story that is being told in this novel is supposed to cover a span of years from 1680 until 1766, but the chronological sequence of the story-telling was obscured by the vast amount of digressions. These digressions are often stories or anecdotes from Tristram’s life, and they move the time setting of the novel back and forward. This makes the novel’s story line hard to follow and the characters and events that appear with it too many to memorize. It takes nine volumes to cover a chain of seemingly unrelated events only for the novel to end unfinished with a promise of another volume. (http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/elab/hfl0259.html)

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
„Sterne writes at a time when the conventions of fictional representation, such as they were, remained fluid, ill-defined, and keenly contested.“ – Thomas Keymer

Prose fiction as a genre of literature itself was still relatively new, hence the name – novel. The common misconception regarding Tristram Shandy is that it is a satirical commentary on the ‘novel’ genre. Terry Eagleton claims that ‘The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy’ is not a novel; in fact, it is an anti-novel, for it does not fit the traditional image of what a novel is supposed to be. And indeed, Laurence Sterne ‘violates’ the rules of form and content. This is the sole reason why this book report will not contain any plot summarization – the novel has none. And this is also why the author’s ‘style’ would be more fitting of a 20th century novel. Sterne includes completely blackened pages and various drawings to prolong certain chapters, he provides the readers with blank pages to be used as a canvas so that...
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