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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  18,192 ratings  ·  1,141 reviews
Now seen as one of the great English comic novels, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman caused a stir in polite 18th-century society, with its bawdy descriptions, rambling prose, and shattering of contemporary literary conventions. Hugely influenced by Francis Bacon and Jonathan Swift, clergyman Laurence Sterne manages to both eloquently champion leading literary and ...more
Paperback, 624 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1767)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,192 ratings  ·  1,141 reviews


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Lisa
Before I start my review of this delightful classic, I have to tell you a short anecdote from my teaching life. But don’t worry, it is not really a digression at all, as it is leading directly to the essence of this novel. It actually has more relevance for Tristram Shandy than many of the anecdotes Tristram himself tells in his story. If it is a digression, (which I formally dispute, partly because you can’t really digress before you have begun, and partly because it is crucial for the review’s ...more
Fionnuala
Before I began this book------
Now don’t climb on your hobby-horse, or rather, don’t pounce on your keyboard to tell me that I didn’t actually begin this book, that it was Laurence Sterne who began this book more than two hundred and fifty years ago, long before I was even a * in my mothers’s eye or an answering * in my father’s------

So, before I began reading this book, like many amongst you, I had preconceived ideas---
Yes, it is worth paying attention to the wording here
...more
Renato Magalhães Rocha
I failed big time in reviewing this.
Oh well.
I tried mentioning Sterne's style and his humor. I tried to include some of my favorite quotes and even show one of the cool drawings included. And I tried stating how much I loved it.
However, when I finished and read it, it didn't do the book any justice at all.
So all that's left for me to do is tell you to go read it.

Rating: 5 stars

This is one of those books we encounter in life that, despite being completely enchanted and raptured chapter after chapter, yet we wonder whether it's even possible tostars
This
...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels

I would like to dedicate the following old review to a much missed GR friend, Bird Brian, who appears as a character in my review. He provided us with many hours of free entertainment with his great rants against every possible aspect of capitalism and the American government. But 50% of him left when Amazon bought GR, and the rest of him disappeared when the censorship controversy splurged all over our heads. And now he is not here to excoriate all the bad people and discover all the conspiraci
...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So many great discoveries were made absolutely unintentionally…
Christopher Columbus was sailing to India and unexpectedly discovered America without any slightest suspicions.
Laurence Sterne was writing some obscure petty biography and unawares discovered postmodernism.
But the most weird and paradoxical thing about it is that he discovered postmodernism long before the modernists managed to discover modernism.
It had ever been the custom of the family, and by length of time was almost become a matter of common rig/>
It/>Laurence/>Christopher
...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
The Shandian Spawn

“If on a friend’s bookshelf
You cannot find Joyce or Sterne
Cervantes, Rabelais, or Burton,

“[Gaddis or Gass, Pynchon or McElroy,
David Foster Wallace, William T Vollmann,
Alexander Theroux or Gilbert Sorrentino,]

“You are in danger, face the fact,
So kick him first or punch him hard
And from him hide behind a curtain.”
― Alexander Theroux [Ergänzung von "N.R."]

Do I really have to say that again?

Bu[Ergänzung
...more
Darwin8u
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2013
“Shall we for ever make new books, as apothecaries make new mixtures, by pouring only out of one vessel into another?”
― Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

description

A POEM IN WHICH IS A CELEBRATION BY NEGATION
or, a repartee on jeopardy.

If on a friend’s bookshelf
You cannot find Joyce or Sterne
Cervantes, Rabelais, or Burton,

You are in danger, face the fact,
So kick him first or punch him hard
And from him hideclass="gr-hostedUserImg">
A
...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Dedication

This was a re-read of a novel that I first read when I was about 14 and that has stayed fresh in my mind ever since.

It was recommended to me by my cricket coach and favourite teacher, John Carr, who taught me English for five years and cemented my passion for Literature in the early 70’s. His Master’s Thesis was on Evelyn Waugh’s "Sword of Honour” Trilogy (which I’ve also read and plan to re-read).

I was amused to learn from Steven Moore that one John Carr rushed out a fake version of volume 3 of "Tristram Shandy” four m
...more
Ted
The name of this review in its saved document is “Review Tristram Shandy NEEDS A FULLER REVIEW”. Hence this fuller review, dashed off in a few minutes, or tens or twenties or thirties of minutes. Which of course reminds us, as Montaigne once wrote, “The hour of parleying is dangerous.” But given that truth, what am I to say about my own parleying with Sterne, if it goes on beyond an hour? or achieves its end in less than an hour? By whom would this danger be faced? By I the writer? Or by you the ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Hindsight is a beaut! I should have written separate reviews for each of the original nine Shandy volumes, since I just spend about two days just trying to put some order into my multitudinous notes and now I have enough material and food for thought for at least nine reviews. This book is a glorious, licentious, philosophical mess designed right from the start in a labyrinthine manner by one of the brightest and sharpest wits of our literary pantheon. I thought, when I first noticed the glowing ...more
MJ Nicholls
This edition from Visual Editions expands upon, or at least emphasises, the typographical fancies Sterne deployed for his maddening nine-book digressive epic. Combining black and red font effects (all the dashes and chapter titles are in red), with unique artistic stunts (the infamous black page is replaced by a strikethrough design, various font frolics are exaggerated in amusing ways, and one page includes a ‘moisture’ effect using semi-laminate bubbles over the text), the book isn’t perhaps as radica ...more
Tony
Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tony by: Fionnuala
Shelves: irish, top-10-2014
May it please your honours, and you, Madam, who certainly inspired the reading if not the reviewing of this book with your own * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *; as I tend not to dabble in the 18th Century. This seminal tale, waxing autobiographical, takes three of the nine volumes at play before our narrator is coaxed out and erroneously christened. My own arrival was unremarkable----if somewhat delayed; My mother, prone to superstition and intuitive causalit ...more
David Lentz
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is so much in this novel one hardly knows where to begin, which is Sterne's hilarious problem for the first 300 pages or so. Tristram Shandy is a comic masterpiece, like Fielding's Tom Jones, which arose barely after the invention of the genre. Even Sterne's name almost seems a play on words and it's easy to see why great minds who followed Sterne like Nietzsche (Note "The Ass Festival" in Zarathustra), Samuel Beckett (Waiting for Godot), James Joyce (Ulysses) and J.P. Donleavy (Darcy Danc ...more
Jeremy
Mar 27, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this, I really did. Sterne is a hugely inventive, hugely capable writer. Maybe he doesn't go in for the batshit linguistic free-for-all that people like James Joyce do, but he is every bit as bizarre and technically innovative. You could recognize one of his wildly digressive, over-mannered sentences in a heartbeat. But I still couldn't stand Tristam Shandy. Not because it's 'bad' per se, (parts of it are extremely engaging and genuinely funny in a way that basically no writing ...more
Mark André
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-iii
'It is not things themselves, but opinions concerning things, which disturb men'.

(From the title page of Tristram Shandy written in ancient Greek and translated by the author in his Notes. The motto is by Epictetus.)
Barry Pierce
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is a novel that is somehow greatly entertaining and impossibly infuriating at the same time.

Tristram, our narrator and author, is quite partial to tangents. Actually, no. A true tangent has to touch the circle at one point. Tristram completely bypasses the circle. This is a novel about a man trying to write a novel. However, he is quite easily distracted. Just when there's a bare semblance of a plot, Tristram goes off on a reel about somethi
...more
Amit Mishra
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite its instant popularity and its ordinary sounding title, Tristram Shandy is a novel with no clear beginning, middle and end; its narrative content is distributed across bafflingly idiosyncratic time-scheme interrupted by numerous digressions, authorial comments and interference with the printed fabric of the book.
The comically fragmented storyline is a reaction or epistolary artifice in favour of a novelistic shape that depends on the association of ideas, a realistic impression.
Manuel Antão
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2002
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.



Keep On Trying: "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" by Laurence Sterne




(Original Review, 2002-06-20)



Many very good books are not difficult to read--at least for the people who read them and have read them. But books can become difficult when difference of culture, or viewpoint, or language, or elapsed time intervene. Dickens is more difficult now than
...more
Elena Holmgren
Wittgenstein once noted that you could profitably write an entire work of philosophy that is comprised entirely of jokes. I wonder if he got the idea from Tristram Shandy (since he said it was one of his favourite books), because this is exactly what Sterne has done here. Because he has chosen humor as his medium, Sterne, like Shakespeare's tragically prophetic and misunderstood jester Yorick (who seems to be chosen by Sterne as his emblem, since he figures not just here but also in his A Sentim ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
'The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy' is a fictional memoir of sorts, but the novel is written in a manner to subvert the formal conventions of the novel (a proto-post-modern genre), and along the way, assert the role of the author as a Maximus Prime Writer, or in other words, someone in complete control of your television set. It is all in good fun, a wonderful satire that aims for lowbrow comedy by using every single aspect of the highbrow educated culture of 1760. To mention some example ...more
ba
Apr 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be honest, I never heard of this book before the film came out last year. My wife heard an NPR report on the film, and they used the terms Post-Modern and Unfilmable so many times that she knew I would be interested. We saw the film and liked it. I finally picked upthe book and read it, expecting a challenging work that would yield some intellectual dividends if I could just plow through it somehow. In actuality, the book was a very fun read. It did indeed have the foreshadowings of postmoder ...more
Melissa Rudder
Jan 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: master-s-exam
I am shocked at the drastic change of my opinion on The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne. After I read it a mere three years ago, I swore I would take my MA Exam without rereading it to avoid undergoing such torture a second time. I gave it one star on goodreads. Having forgotten everything about the novel (aside from my distaste for it), I had to reread it for the exam. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wrote "ha!" in the margins more than I have in any other book. I laughed out l ...more
Maddie
I can't believe I actually finished this.
Ronald Morton
This book is amazing. I’m just going to stick that up here at the top, before I go off on a tangent, so it shows up for any of you browsing reviews attached to this book.

Books like this cause me a great deal of anxiety. I know that’s weird, so let me explain. I’ve been aware of Tristam Shandy for the majority of my reading life, though it was only in college (a decade or so ago) that I became a bit more aware of the general gist of the work, which at least placed it somewhere on my “to r
...more
Roy Lotz
Nothing odd will do long. Tristram Shandy did not last.
—Samuel Johnson

I wonder if Laurence Sterne, duty bound as he was, him being the author, or at the least the transcriber of this tale—as sometimes stories seem to come from some higher power, and we merely jot them down—I wonder, I say, if he had duly considered what he was about when he birthed this work from his brain;—whether he well understood how much depended on the doing, as there is after all no telling how many people will come to read wha
...more
Bruce
Nov 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To describe this late 18th century novel as being characterized by constant digressions, as is often done (and even by Sterne himself), is probably inaccurate, since to digress implies that one has an ultimate goal in mind from which one is recurrently sidetracked. Sterne’s narrative has no particular goal from which to digress, his interest being more in following his mind and its associations wherever they may lead him. In that sense, his mind is like the minds of all of us, and we are invited ...more
Alex
"Read, read, read, read, my unlearned reader! Read...for without much reading, by which, your reverence knows, I mean much knowledge, you will no more be able to penetrate the meaning of my next marbled page (motly emblem of my work!) than the world with all its sagacity has been able to unravel the many opinions, transactions and truths which still lie mystically hid under the dark veil of the black one." (III.35)

There's the most-quoted bit from Tristram Shandy, which is full of references to obscure works, w
...more
Jan-Maat
A post modern book written before modernism was even a twinkle in the Widow's eye.

I'm tempted to say the entire book is a digression, truer prehaps to say that it is an exercise in the art of digression for comic effect.

Tristram Shandy attempts to tell the story of his life and opinions but almost everything from buttons to noses requires further explanation and chapters of their own, so the book progresses like one of those 18th century sieges that Corporal Trim and Tristram's uncle are so bu
...more
Ben
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve got but 20,000 characters with which to express my thoughts on Laurence Sterne’s digressive-heavy masterpiece The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, so I must make sure to add no digressions of my own on the subjects of buttonholes, pishes, knots or anything else. Though a digression on digressions might be warranted it too must be avoided. While a space consisting of 20,000 characters may seem ample for reviewing a work, its shortcomings surely become quite evident when one checks and ...more
Faith
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, overdrive
This book was decidedly strange and extremely inventive. Some parts were very funny and/or subtly bawdy. There were endless digressions about noses, groin injuries and hobby horses (although they may not have really been digressions). It took hundreds of pages just to get through the date of Tristram's birth. I listened to the audiobook read by Anton Lesser and he was very entertaining. I also followed along in the ebook. I think this book needs to be seen since there are all sorts of structural ...more
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Laurence Sterne was an Irish-born English novelist and an Anglican clergyman. He is best known for his novels The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, and A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy; but he also published many sermons, wrote memoirs, and was involved in local politics. Sterne died in London after years of fighting consumption (tuberculosis).

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurence...
“I begin with writing the first
sentence—and trusting to Almighty
God for the second.”
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“Human nature is the same in all professions.” 36 likes
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