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A Sentimental Journey

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  5,389 ratings  ·  289 reviews
A furiously witty response to Tobias Smollett's curmudgeonly 'Travels through France and Italy', Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy became a hugely influential work of travel writing in its own right. This Penguin Classics edition includes an introduction and notes by Paul Goring.

When Yorick, the roving narrator of Sterne's innovative final no
Paperback, 170 pages
Published November 29th 2001 by Penguin Classics (first published 1768)
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Average rating 3.36  · 
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Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is pure character-driven, plotless fun. It's a travel tale in which the first-person narrator drifts from incident to incident and it is always the idiosyncratic power of his voice that carries us along. The text is not easy, loaded with archaisms and French expressions as it is. Light readers steer clear. Endnotes are copious--and essential--about two or three to a page. If you loved The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, as I did, this should also satisfy. The prose here se ...more
"I had left London with so much precipitation, that it never entered my mind that we were at war with France; and had reached Dover, and looked through my glass at the hills beyond Boulogne, before the idea presented itself; and with this in its train, that there was no getting there without a passport. Go but to the end of the street, I have a mortal aversion for returning back no wiser than I set out; and as this was one of the greatest efforts I had ever made for knowledge, I could less bear ...more
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, british, fiction
“There are worse occupations in this world than feeling a woman’s pulse.”
- Laurence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey

Published literally RIGHT before poor Sterne died, this short (and well-received) book is basically a fake travelogue through France and Italy. Yorick plays the part of Sterne's alter-ego. The book is less experimental than The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, but still a joy. It seems to exude both a bit of Richardson and Rousseau. I think it was Byron who said that S
This novel is based on a trip that Sterne took in 1765 through France and Italy. How much is true and how much is fiction is uncertain, but after reading it I suspect it is mostly fiction. It's quixotic in nature and structure, but Sterne's episodic tales of Yorick, a British clergyman, fall well short of the brilliance of Cervantes famous character. But it was entertaining enough to give it 4 stars. Now off to try his more popular work, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. ...more
The book “A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy by Mr Yorick” was written by Laurence Sterne (1713–1768), an Anglican cleric, possessing great powers of observation and extraordinary humour. The motto can be found right at the beginning of the book: “Idlers who leave their home country go abroad for some reason or reasons that can be derived from one of these general causes - illness of the body, imbecility of the spirit, or inevitable need. " ...more
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1700-1800, reviewed
I hadn’t read any Sterne for years, but revisiting A Sentimental Journey reminded me of how hilarious he is, and how sophisticated and experimental. It’s salutary, as always, to remember quite how postmodern premodern literature can be.

The book was Sterne’s last, published less than a month before his death from tuberculosis in 1768, and it draws on a journey he himself made through France and Italy in 1762, in search for a climate that would benefit his health. He narrates the tale of his trav
MJ Nicholls
For those curious as to Sterne’s “other thing” besides Tristram Shandy, let me make it clear: no, this is not another spearheading postmodern masterpiece. This is a vicaresque (ha—see what I did there?) travelogue narrated by the curious Yorick, a man of questionable virtue. The chapters are bitesize but thin-in-content, making it pleasant to read if not altogether interesting—a few semi-comic mishaps befall the narrator, and the Tobias Smollett parodies are amusing too. The novel does lean towa ...more
Vanessa Wu
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whether modern or old, the edition of a book is important. I am very fussy and perhaps even sentimental about this. For me a book is a physical object to be cherished for its sheer physicality as much as for its sentiment and sense. My first choice for A Sentimental Journey is the Oxford World's Classics edition edited by Ian Jack and Tim Parnell. I like the font and the discreet signalling of notes with a little superscripted circle.

This Oxford edition contains A Sentimental Journey and Other W
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
The only novel I know where the author purposedly omitted the last word. And that word, if I may so delicately disclose, is CUNT. Or the equivalent old slang term they use for it when this was first published in 1768: CASE. As in:

"His Pego measur'd to the Female Case,
"Betwixt a Woman's Thighs his proper Place."
--Essay on Woman, John Wilkes (1763)

Virginia Woolf surely would have disagreed. She read this sometime in the late 1920's, expressed admiration for Laurence Sterne's "delicate, flashing st
For a short novella this reads far longer. The "adventures" of Yorick a Parson and his travels primarily through France. Sometimes quite the innocent abroad. Not so much about the scenery, more about the characters both male and female that he met along the way. ...more
Nov 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
Honestly, if I could rate this lower than a star I would.
Jan 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When I read the negative reviews of this book, I have to guess that people just didn't get it. It's very funny. It's about an upper class young man's erotic adventures in France. He writes as if he's very chaste, but he keeps finding himself in compromising situations with beautiful women and he falls victim to his passions. Don't condemn him unless you've been in an identical situation. Yorrick loves women--All women. It's not all spelled out. You have to read between the lines to know what's ...more
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Written in the rambling, laconic but clearly deliberate and perfectly modulated style which Sterne got down to a fine art in ‘Tristram Shandy’, ‘A Sentimental Journey’ is the loose journal of the lonely and very English Parson Yorick on a trip through France in the mid-Eighteenth century.

The book is made up of short chapters sub-titled ‘The Monk – Calais’, ‘The Husband – Paris’, ‘The Passport – Versailles’, etc. Yorick has a keen and self-deprecating sense of humour and is always trying to be po
Much like The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, this is a fun romp filled with sarcasm directed at the grand tour. I recommend it only, be warned, if you thing YA cliffhangers are bad, wait till you get a load at this one. ...more
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Almost exactly 100 years before Mark Twain gave us his travel book, Innocence Abroad; Laurence Sterne made this a popular genre with A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy. The Grand Tour of Europe was in its early years and was mostly for the wealthy. Sterne made such a trip and having met the grumpy Tobias Smollett he made this much lighter reply to those who could not manage to enjoy their travel. In an aside he dubs Smollett: Smelfungus condemning and satirizing hi co-traveler.

For th
May 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who liked Tristram Shandy
The other major Sterne work. And though much shorter, I don't know if I would recommend it to read first. The complexity of this book is not immediately evident (which makes it all the more fantastic for me). I think it gains in greatness with its comparison to Tristram Shandy.

On its own, though, I think it might make an interesting read. It is largely credited for starting the sentimental fiction subgenre - which can be a bit unfair to the book, since sentimental fiction is marked by ridiculous
Grace Harwood
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
There is so much irreverent humour in this book and so much of the ridiculous that it's almost like a precursor to Monty Python. Yorick, (The sentimental traveller) sets off on his journey to France in a fit of pique, after taking offence at the offhand remark of one of his acquaintances. It only occurs to him after the fact that (a) he does not have a passport and (b) Britain and France are at war, which might render travel difficult for him. But Yorick is not cast down for long - via a method ...more
عماد العتيلي
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads

This book is a real treasure! It's just amazing!
I laughed a lot and I thought a lot about its deep ideas and arguments.
It represents a fight between the "clay-cold heads" and the "Luke-warm hearts"!


I truly enjoyed reading it. It's different and unique.
I recommend it.
I'm also really excited to read Sterne's other famous book Tristram Shandy :) I'll start reading it soon :)
Megan Baxter
Mar 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Writing a review in the evening feels weird. I'm so used to getting up, having breakfast, sitting down in front of the computer, and, if I've finished a book the day before, just letting whatever's on my mind about said book spill onto the page. But this week, I'm having to leave the house an hour early, so welcome to a special evening edition of Megan's Reviews.

The Sentimental Journey was slight, enjoyable, and baffling. I take it from the footnotes that many of the chapters are in-jokes, direc
Nov 24, 2008 rated it did not like it
I'm happy that this book was so short because I did not like reading it. Perhaps the story was good but the style that it was told in made it so difficult to read and understand what was going on that I got frustrated by it. ...more
Mar 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
Jordan Taylor
Nov 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers of 18th Century literature, those looking for a challenge
A book about a young man's travels, published in 1768.
Though this book was a bit tedious and dragged on about trivial events some, but nevertheless, I found it highly entertaining and funny. The writing style is decisively 18th Century, which I adored. As a warning, however, if you are not well versed in the language and customs of the 1700's, I would advise that you approach this book with a guide of some sort, to save yourself a headache.
All the scenes that involved women were hilarious. The b
Matthew Gatheringwater
I read this book while attending a sick man who, every time I had just started to make sense of one of Sterne's infinitely regressive passages, woke up from a nap and cried "Help!" When he fell back asleep, I had to start from the beginning again. As a result, I have difficulty giving a coherent account of the entire book, but recall that parts of it were very amusing. Of course, I can say the same thing about Tristram Shandy, which I read without interruption.

Basically, I have taken away the me
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
What a wonderfully well written mockery the 17th Century Travel Journal genre. But oh, how unforgettably dull it all was! This is upsetting, because intellectually I very much appreciated Laurence Sterne's skill and flair and literary sprezzatura. But however much I desired to masticate its contents and ingest its smooth prose, I found emesis occurring inadvertently, every step of the way. It definitely left my attention span totally depleted.

Yes, I know: its all quite gauche of me, to coarsely—
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classic, read-on-kobo
Ah! The second book in a row I've read with dialogues without quotation marks though this one understandably is more epistolary in style. Still... it was a tad hard to read. The short chapters made it easy reading but the rather ridiculous character was kind of frustrating; I don't know whether I wanted to laugh or to shake him. And then that ending! I thought there was something wrong with my ebook! I had to look it up and well, I guess it was kinda funny... It still is not a book I'd recommend ...more
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure he did much in Italy however, while in France he was non stop on the look out for ladies - an early version 'player'. The prose was choppy and outdated, the French was above me and required looking up - but as it was only a limited amount it took nothing away from the story. The story, point of the book, was hard to determine - it was a diary of events rather anything else. ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland, 18th-century
This is one of the more difficult books I've ever read, which is unusual considering it's barely more than 100 pages. I was first assigned it in university as part of a course on 18th century literature, during a period of my studies in which I didn't read anything I hadn't heard of, because only what is suitably canonical to reach my attention could be worth my time. I was pretty stupid. One of the reasons we were assigned this book and not Tristram Shandy is because the latter book is 800 page ...more
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
Very silly but fun, travelogue by a fictional character from Tristram Shandy. "Sentimental" means "love-related" and all of the little chapters revolve around women. It's unfinished--Sterne planned four volumes but died with only two published--so Yorick doesn't make it as far as Italy, which makes the title unintentionally absurd, too. ...more
The Celtic Rebel (Richard)
Still loving my journeys through Laurence Sterne's writing. Haven't read most of them since my college days. This was his final novel/novella and is a wonderful piece of literature. It's plot-free fun and less about the scenery he sees but about the characters met along the way. Highly recommend this. ...more
Sep 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Not bad, not bad at all, I am glad I read this on a reading device for the translation of the French that was throughout book. Still like Smollett's book, "Travels Through France and Italy, much better. ...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.wikipe

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