The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy – Laurence Sterne

3 days to the deadline, and I’ve finished Tristram Shandy! For once, a New Year’s resolution is kept! Way to go me!

So:

1. It’s too long.

2. The first four books are the best.

3. Bits of it are genuinely hilarious (some of the banter between Walter and Toby, and Sterne’s merciless ribbing of the legal profession and the clergy).

It’s very rude and very playful. The most modern parts of it are the typographical inventions (aped by Alastair Gray, in Lanark, for example) and the discussions about narrative form and the direct addressing of the reader (not unlike If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Calvino).

(Which reminds me – I should re-read Lanark some time).

It also has some useful life tips:

1. You get more sex when you associate it with a regular task (like winding the grandfather clock).
2. When considering any important point, do it twice, once when sober and once when drunk.
3. And then ask your wife after she’s had a good seeing to (once you’ve wound the grandfather clock).
4. If you ask a wounded soldier where the bullet hit him, he will be thinking geography while you are thinking anatomy. Much hilarity will ensue.

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