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(10/11/2008) The Life & Opinions Of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne. New York. 1985. Penguin Books. Edited By Graham Petrie With An Introduction By Christopher Ricks. keywords: Literature England Penguin 18th Century. 659 pages. The cover shows Caricature of Laurence Sterne and Death by Thomas Patch, by kind permission of Jesus College, Cambridge. 0140430199.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   'Nothing odd will do long,' said Dr Johnson; 'Tristram Shandy did not last.' But Tristram Shandy has lasted, to be cherished in the century of Joyce and Pirandello perhaps even more than in the eighteenth. No one description will fit this strange, eccentric, endlessly complex masterpiece. It is a novel about writing a novel in which the invented world is as much infused with wit and genius as the theme of inventing it. It is a joyful celebration of the infinite possibilities of the art of fiction, and a wry demonstration of its limitations. It is also, in Christopher Ricks's words, 'the greatest shaggy dog story in the language.' 

LAURENCE STERNE was born in 1713 at Clonmel in Ireland, the son of an army ensign. From 1723 until his father's death in 1731 he was sent to school in Halifax, Yorkshire, and in 1733 he entered as a sizar at Jesus College, Cambridge, receiving his BA in 1737. With the help of his uncle Jacques, precentor and canon of York, Sterne earned his livings. He took holy orders and in 1738 obtained the living of Sutton-in-the-Forest, near York, and a prebend in the cathedral. In 1741 he married and through his wife's influence received the neighbouring benefice of Stillington. Their marriage was generally unhappy. Sterne's literary career began late; his first publication, a pamphlet called A POLITICAL ROMANCE, appeared in 1759. In the same year he began his masterpiece THE LIFE AND OPINIONS OF TRISTRAM SHANDY. The first two volumes made him a celebrity and he visited London where he was lavishly feted. Between 1761 and 5767 he brought out a further seven volumes. Sterne was dogged by ill-health for much of his life and during his latter years he alternated bouts of being lionized in London with recuperative continental travels. A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY, published in 1768, was created from a seven-month trip through France and Italy. Laurence Sterne died in London in 1768.

GRAHAM PETRIE studied at St Andrews University and Brasenose College, Oxford. He teaches English and Film Studies at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. He has published several books of film criticism, on Francois Truffaut, Hungarian cinema and American silent cinema, as well as a novel SEAHORSE and numerous short stories.

 

 

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