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Sterne, 'Tristram Shandy > Week 9 (4)Vol 2: 58 - 67 (9)Vol 4: 23 - 32

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message 1: by David (new)

David | 2681 comments Ch.23
Walter, Toby, and Yorick plan to attend a dinner of learned men to determine whether or not Tristram’s name may be changed after he has been Christened.

Ch 24 ? This chapter was missing in my edition, and I suspect it was missing in your editions as well.

Ch.25 On the Omitted Chapter]
The joke here seems to be that the explanation of the missing chapter includes enough details from the missing chapter to make omission superfluous. We are also told that the description of the trip, was so much better than the rest of the book, it was left out to preserve the harmony of the whole and not make the other scenes look bad by comparison. I was also prompted to learn a thing or two about heraldry.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bend_(h...
Now, per Obidiah’s assertion, we all probably know more about heraldry than the clergy does.

A note in my edition explains a detail on the page numbering:
Chasm of ten pages: The first edition skips nine pages (147–55), resulting in even-numbered right-hand pages for the remainder of Volume IV; to avoid this anomaly, which would have to continue to the end of modern one-volume editions, ten pages are usually skipped, as in this edition.
Ch.26
Yorick's Opinion on Sermons
Yorick takes revenge on his sermon by cutting it up handing out the pieces for the men to light their pipes with. Yorick also seems to be saying a half hour of semon of reason and rhetoric seem to be a self-aggrandizing waste of everybody's time compared to a few good words of the heart. Interesting sentiment for one in the profession of giving sermons.

Ch.27
Phutatorius's "Zounds!", or the chestnut story. The details, like a slow-motion wind up to the exclamation made my day. It seems Phutatorius assumes the hot chestnut was Yorick’s fault.

Ch.28
A hilarious discussion on the care of wounded tender part[s], . . .which can conveniently be wrapt up.

Ch.29
Some pretty wild arguments here. The mother is not kin to her own child, and the somewhat disturbing argumentum commune

Ch.30
Another stair-case conversation.

Ch.31
While the subtle details of the conversation were immensely interesting to Walter, the answer of the name change is left unresolved.

Bobby and the Ox-Moor
Walter then suffers the vacillations on how best to spend a legacy of a thousand pounds from Aunt Dinah. It is between sending Bobby, the oldest Shandy child to the continent, or improving a tract of land known as the ox-moor. Walter is saved from the evils of indecision by a larger evil, the death of Bobby.
What is the life of man! Is it not to shift from side to side?—from sorrow to sorrow?——to button up one cause of vexation!—and unbutton another!
Ch.32
A chapter on things, i.e., teaser plans for the next volume.
A note on:
True Shandeism: Cf. Sterne’s letter to Hall-Stevenson in June 1761: ‘I have not managed my miseries like a wise man—and if God, for my consolation under them, had not poured forth the spirit of Shandeism into me, which will not suffer me to think two moments upon any grave subject, I would else, just now lay down and die—die——and yet, in half an hour’s time, I’ll lay a guinea, I shall be as merry as a monkey—and as mischievous too …’ Shandeism bears comparison with Rabelais’s ‘Pantagruelism’, as, e.g., Rabelais’s concluding words to Book II: ‘And if you desire to be good Pantagruelists, that is to say, to live in peace, joy, health, making yourselves always merry, never trust those men that always peep out at one hole’ (II.34), i.e. narrow-minded persons.



message 2: by Alexey (new)

Alexey | 289 comments I wonder, if it because I know Sterne was a vicar, but it looks like he had a special delight in picturing this dinner of learned men.


message 3: by David (last edited Jan 15, 2020 09:08PM) (new)

David | 2681 comments Alexey wrote: "I wonder, if it because I know Sterne was a vicar, but it looks like he had a special delight in picturing this dinner of learned men."

I wonder if Yorick's opinion of his own sermons parallels Sterne's opinion of the learned mens' learned opinions?


message 4: by Alexey (last edited Jan 15, 2020 09:52PM) (new)

Alexey | 289 comments David wrote: "Alexey wrote: "I wonder, if it because I know Sterne was a vicar, but it looks like he had a special delight in picturing this dinner of learned men."

I wonder if Yorick's opinion of his own sermo..."


Parallels - is what first assumes, but with Sterne's meanings, one can be as sure as with the death of Schrodinger's cat...

I have not read anything of Sterne except the book we discuss, so it is very interesting how far his personal experience reflected in the book. What did he think about his profession? He did not look too happy with it in the novel, though not entirely critical.


message 5: by David (new)

David | 2681 comments Yorick, who is also the narrator of Sterne's other work, A Sentimental Journey is firmly established as Sterne's barely disguised alter-ego.

I just thought it was clever to have Yorick complain about sermons appealing to the head, when appeals to the heart would be much more efficient and effective and then demonstrate the inefficiencies and red-herrings, and endless technicalities of appeals to the head in the dinner conversation. My question is, would that count as a reasoned argument, Q.E.D., as an appeal to the head that favors appeals to the heart?


message 6: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1532 comments The scene at the dinner table was hilarious.

The men take themselves so seriously and spout what they consider to be rational arguments. I see Sterne as poking fun at their bluster.

The claim that Mrs. Shandy is not the parent of her child echoes Apollo's claim at the trial of Orestes.


message 7: by Lily (last edited Jan 16, 2020 08:01PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5030 comments Tamara wrote: "The claim that Mrs. Shandy is not the parent of her child echoes Apollo's claim at the trial of Orestes...."

Interesting, Tamara. I linked Mrs. Shandy not being the parent of her child more to the view of the homunculus as the sole source of the infant rather "extolled" in the early chapters, with the suggested baptism rituals et al. (A view which posited the egg provided nourishment only.) Do say more about the linkages you see to the the Orestes and Apollo legend?


message 8: by Alexey (new)

Alexey | 289 comments David wrote: "Yorick, who is also the narrator of Sterne's other work, A Sentimental Journey is firmly established as Sterne's barely disguised alter-ego.

I just thought it was clever to have Yori..."


I still can not imagine what Sterne had in mind, but if it is what it seems, it is indeed a clever way to demonstrate that appeal to the heart is better than appeal to the head. Or that appeal to the head without appeal to the heart is just a train of technicalities.


message 9: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1532 comments Lily wrote: "Tamara wrote: "The claim that Mrs. Shandy is not the parent of her child echoes Apollo's claim at the trial of Orestes...."

Interesting, Tamara. I linked Mrs. Shandy not being the parent of her ch..."


In the trial of Orestes, Apollo defends Orestes' murder of his mother by claiming the mother is not the true parent of the child. She is merely the vessel that holds the man's seed. He compares her to soil that nurtures the seed until it blooms. According to Apollo, the man is the only true parent of the child, and, therefore, Orestes was fully justified in avenging the murder of his father.


message 10: by Alexey (new)

Alexey | 289 comments The 'funny' thing is that Apollo occasionally avenged his mother. Of course, not to his dad, but he certainly did not think of her as 'mere vessel'.


message 11: by David (last edited Jan 17, 2020 03:37PM) (new)

David | 2681 comments Then how did Orestes explain:
Gaia: the ancestral mother of all life: the primal Mother Earth goddess. She is the mother of Uranus (the sky), from whose sexual union she bore the Titans (themselves parents of many of the Olympian gods)
Wouldn't that make Gaia the ultimate example of a mother as a parent, starting all life on her own like she did?

Clytemnestra needed a better prosecuting attorney.

Please pass those hot nuts. . .


message 12: by Alexey (new)

Alexey | 289 comments Since Orestes was acquitted by tiebreak, s better prosecuting attorney would save the day for Clytemnestra's cause, but he or she would certainly end that day with an arrow in the chest.

...what did you say about hot nuts?)


message 13: by David (new)

David | 2681 comments Speaking of hot nuts, I was surprised to learn that zounds was not just a nonsense word. A note in my edition indicates:
Zounds: God’s wounds, i.e. Christ’s wounds on the cross.
The true meaning of zounds suggests Phutatorius exercised considerable poetic license in its use.


message 14: by Alexey (new)

Alexey | 289 comments For me it is not the first time, when I, reading TS, took a real word or name for nonsense


message 15: by Gary (last edited Jan 18, 2020 09:12AM) (new)

Gary | 205 comments Tamara wrote: "The scene at the dinner table was hilarious. The men take themselves so seriously and spout what they consider to be rational arguments. I see Sterne as poking fun at their bluster."

Homenas, Didius, Plutatorius, Gastripheres, Somnolentus, Agelastes, Eugenius, Triptolemus, Yorick, Walter, Toby. These are the names of the dinner party company. It’s interesting to me that only two of these are English, Water and Toby, whose simple names contrast tellingly with the others. Yorick was made up by Shakespeare as a Danish name https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yorick. Among the other names are two disreputable Roman emperors; another’s names is translated as sleepy; yet another is the name of the Greek demi-god of sowing. The rest seem to be made up pretentious names meant to look Latin or Greek. Sterne assigned his characters names or made up names to mock the assembly of the self-satisfied.

Even in the naming of the scholars and clerics around the table Sterne is mocking the assembly and showing them as puffed up, righteous, and out of touch. Indeed, they mock the people as vulgar and far be it from them to listen to the vulgar.


message 16: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1532 comments Gary wrote: "Even in the naming of the scholars and clerics around the table Sterne is mocking the assembly and showing them as puffed up, righteous, and out of touch. Indeed, they mock the people as vulgar and far be it from them to listen to the vulgar...."

Good point, Gary. I like your analysis of the names. It fits in well with Sterne poking fun at this assembly of self-identified august men.


message 17: by David (new)

David | 2681 comments I have been trying to decipher the meaning of these names but the notes are a little difficult to match names to meanings:

A note:
4. Phutatorius: Copulator; he will receive the hot chestnut in his lap at the Visitation dinner, IV.xxvii.
From the Author's Preface, between Chapter 20 and 21 in Volume 3:
and to you, most subtle statesmen and discreet doctors (do—pull off your beards) renowned for gravity and wisdom;—Monopolos, my politician,—Didius, my counsel; Kysarcius, my friend;—Phutatorius, my guide;—Gastripheres, the preserver of my life; Somnolentius. . .
And the note for it:
9. Monopolos … Somnolentius: Sterne’s inventions: a monopolist, lick-spittle (less politely, ass-kisser), big-belly and sleeper. The last three reappear at the Visitation dinner.
It seems to me Gastipheres would be the big belly (gastr- = stomach) and Somnolentius would be the sleeper (somn- = sleep) so I am not sure I have them all matched up correctly to their meanings. Has anyone had any better luck matching up all 6 names to their meanings?

More contextual bawdy humor: I have also heard of fire-ship, the naval strategy to sacrifice one ship by setting it ablaze and sailing it against a cluster of enemy ships. Apparently there is an alternate meaning of the term:
—Can you tell me, quoth Phutatorius, speaking to Gastripheres who sat next to him,—for one would not apply to a surgeon in so foolish an affair,—can you tell me, Gastripheres, what is best to take out the fire(1)?

(1) take out the fire: Sterne plays on the ‘heat’ of venereal infection; cf. the eighteenth-century term fire-ship for a prostitute.



message 18: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5030 comments Tamara wrote: "...by claiming the mother is not the true parent of the child. She is merely the vessel that holds the man's seed. He compares her to soil that nurtures the seed until it blooms...."

Okay. Thx, Tamara. The ancient version of the homunculus theory of life! It was clear inklings of its inadequacy had been around for a long time; I wonder exactly when it was that the mutual role of sperm and egg was fully and widely understood. (My cursory search a few weeks ago yielded no clear answer -- possibly because none may exist.)


message 19: by David (new)

David | 2681 comments Lily wrote: "I wonder exactly when it was that the mutual role of sperm and egg was fully and widely understood."

This article may shed some light on the subject:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/p...

An Excerpt:
150 Years of Confusion
A naive modern reader could reasonably assume thatthis was the end of the matter and that everyone soonrealized that egg and sperm were complementary, eachcontaining half of what was necessary to produce newlife. Not at all. Firstly, there were technical issues: noone had yet seen a human egg, and would not do so until1827 (Von Baer 1956). But above all, it was not clearwhat the discoveries meant. For nearly 150 years,thinking about generation was dominated by either‘ovist’ or ‘spermist’ views



message 20: by Susan (last edited Feb 03, 2020 07:30PM) (new)

Susan | 395 comments David wrote: "I have been trying to decipher the meaning of these names but the notes are a little difficult to match names to meanings:

A note:
4. Phutatorius: Copulator; he will receive the hot chestnut in ..."


I found this which explains five of the six: “Monopolos means monopolist, Kysarcius, lick-spittle, Phutatorius, copulator, Gastripheres, big-belly and Somnolentius, sleeper” but not Didius

http://www.tristramshandyweb.it/sezio...


message 21: by David (last edited Feb 03, 2020 08:09PM) (new)

David | 2681 comments Wow! Great link. That certainly adds dimensions.


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