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Tristram Shandy - 2015 > Discussion - Week Two - Tristram Shandy - Vol. III - IV, pg. 112 - 237

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message 1: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
This discussion covers Volume III – IV, pg. 112 – 237


In all disputes, - male or female, - whether for honor, for profit or for love, - it makes no difference in the case; - nothing is more dangerous, madam, than a wish coming sideways in the unexpected manner upon a man: the safest way in general to take off the force of the wish, is, for the party wished at, instantly to get up upon his legs – and wish the wisher something in return, of pretty near the same value, so balancing the account upon the spot, you stand as you were – nay sometimes gain the advantage of the attack by it.
(Volume III, Chapter I)


Neither a borrower nor a lender be?



To avoid spoilers, please limit your comments to page 1 – 237.


Jonathan | 108 comments Ho! Ho! I'm getting more in to this book now. I've only just started vol. 3 but it's amusing; what with the problems with knots, how to curse efficiently and with which hand should one use to remove one's wig.


message 3: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
Jonathan wrote: "Ho! Ho! I'm getting more in to this book now. I've only just started vol. 3 but it's amusing; what with the problems with knots, how to curse efficiently and with which hand should one use to remov..."

Certainly required learning for the gentleman...


Jonathan | 108 comments I'm beginning to enjoy the dynamic between the father and Toby. When talking about time the father asks 'But you have some ideas of what you talk about.' Toby's reply made me laugh: 'No more than my horse.'


message 5: by Mkfs (new) - added it

Mkfs | 210 comments Jonathan wrote: "Toby's reply made me laugh: 'No more than my horse.' "

I lost it when I encountered the Author's Preface ... after Book III, Chapter 20.


Jonathan | 108 comments Mkfs wrote: "I lost it when I encountered the Author's Preface ... after Book III, Chapter 20."

I'm at that point as well. I'm enjoying it if I take it in small doses and don't worry too much about what I'm missing. Like Toby, at times I feel that I have no more ideas than my horse...and I don't have a horse.


Jonathan | 108 comments Well, I got lost with the Author's Preface and haven't quite recovered. It was something about wit and judgement being like two knobs of the mind...or something. Hopefully someone can enlighten me on this. Of course, it didn't help putting the preface in the middle of volume III...eek!

Is it just me or does Sterne start using loads of sexual innuendos after the preface? We have the brilliant account of Trim's and Bridget's courtship:
--for though he never after went to the house, yet he never met Bridget in the village, but he would either nod or wink, or smile, or look kindly at her,--or (as circumstances directed), he would shake her by the hand,--or ask her lovingly how she did,--or would give her a ribban,--and now and then, though never but when it could be done with decorum, would give Bridget a---
I assume that what I think is the missing word is what Sterne intended. Tristram wonders:
That both man and woman bear pain or sorrow, (and, for aught I know, pleasure too) best in a horizontal position.
And of course we musn't assume that when the word Nose is used that anything else is implied. Not at all! Never!


message 8: by Mkfs (new) - added it

Mkfs | 210 comments Jonathan wrote: "...And of course we musn't assume that when the word Nose is used that anything else is implied. Not at all! Never! "

Ah yes, the Cyrano Conjecture ;)


message 9: by Jonathan (last edited Jan 25, 2015 12:07PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jonathan | 108 comments I notice that Sterne had an impressive nose - Wikipedia page on Sterne. And, yes, I do mean his nose!


message 10: by Mkfs (last edited Jan 26, 2015 05:42PM) (new) - added it

Mkfs | 210 comments "Learned men don’t write dialogues upon long noses for nothing."

Tristram inspired me to check the Colloquies of Erasmus, and sure enough, there is discussion on long noses.


message 11: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 43 comments Note on the language: if any of you know someone, or are someone, or have lived, in the Appalachian regions of the South, and were friends with an older, unlettered as it were, person, it will help. In this region one finds many of the same turns of speech, as well as the same vocabulary, as Sterne uses.


message 12: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 43 comments And another note on plot. One critic has said that Sterne is like a man seeing how slowly he can ride a bicycle without toppling over...


Jonathan | 108 comments Mkfs wrote: ""Learned men don’t write dialogues upon long noses for nothing."

Tristram inspired me to check the Colloquies of Erasmus, and sure enough, there is discussion on long noses."


I didn't realise that Erasmus was one of the Marx Brothers?


Jonathan | 108 comments Elizabeth wrote: "And another note on plot. One critic has said that Sterne is like a man seeing how slowly he can ride a bicycle without toppling over..."

I like that analogy. Sometimes I feel as if the bike is going backwards though!


message 15: by Mkfs (new) - added it

Mkfs | 210 comments Impressions upon reaching book V: I cannot believe that the How do YOU like it? joke is as old as this novel!


Jonathan | 108 comments I've only just got to the end of vol. IV. As with the rest of the book there are parts that drag and parts that sparkle. Difficult but rewarding.

I liked the concern that Tristram shows us when he says:
And now that you have just got to the end of these four volumes--the thing I have to ask is, how do you feel your heads? my own akes dismally--



Jonathan | 108 comments I see what you mean now Mkfs, with the 'How do YOU like it' joke. In the book Tristram refers to Selden and the note in my OUP version mentions that this was from a book published in 1689 called 'Table Talk'.

I vaguely recall a Groucho Marx quote along the lines of: it doesn't matter how old a joke is when you hear it for the first time.


message 18: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
I've only just arrived at the Author's Preface.

An obvious thing to note about the book is how slow its seems to the 21st-century reader. (The same can be said for 19th century novels as well.) With our whiz-bang-giga-speed sensibilities, have we lost the ability/desire to savor? How can we slow down our digi-brains and absorb books like these?


Jonathan | 108 comments I think fast readers might find it trickier to read TS. I'm quite a slow reader anyway and my 'Proust reading' last year was good training for slow reading.

I find the language quite difficult at times and that's what is tripping me up occasionally.


message 20: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
Jonathan wrote: "I think fast readers might find it trickier to read TS. I'm quite a slow reader anyway and my 'Proust reading' last year was good training for slow reading.

I find the language quite difficult at ..."


Another element that increases the sense of "slowness" is repetition*. We're somewhat used to hearing things once and simply, and then on to the next bit of data. Here in TS, we're getting variants of the same info again and again. Damn my digi-brain!!





(*regarding repetition and slowness in Proust, while reading In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, I became so frustrated with the pace that I made several attempts to open up a wormhole in the time-space continuum so I could reach back in time to bitch slap Marcel while screaming "passer à autre chose!!", which roughly translates to "get on with it!")


Jonathan | 108 comments Jim wrote: "(*regarding repetition and slowness in Proust, while reading In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, I became so frustrated with the pace that I made several attempts to open up a wormhole in the time-space continuum so I could reach back in time to bitch slap Marcel while screaming "passer à autre chose!!", which roughly translates to "get on with it!") "

I think I got to that point when I read 'The Captive' - strangely enough it was one of my favourite volumes of ISOLT.

I think with Sterne he also likes the confusion he causes the reader - I mean in a playful way. This is a characteristic he shares with E.T.A. Hoffmann so I can see why Hoffmann liked Sterne's work.

BTW Tristram Shandy has made me curious enough to consider reading some more of Sterne's work, especially A Sentimental Journey.


Jonathan | 108 comments Here's the other Hogarth illustration from my edition.
tristram_Hogarth02-750px


message 23: by Jonathan (last edited Feb 01, 2015 09:48AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jonathan | 108 comments Regarding the 'slowness' of the plot, Tristram's comment on this in Vol4, Ch13 is very amusing. He stops the narrative to apologise to the reader but he also hopes that the reader can spare a thought for himself:
I am this month one whole year older than I was this time twelve-month; and having got, as you perceive, almost into the middle of my fourth volume--and no farther than to my first day's life--'tis demonstrative that I have three hundred and sixty-four days more life to write just now, than when I first set out; so that instead of advancing, as a common writer, in my work with what I have been doing at it--on the contrary, I am just thrown so many volumes back--
He admits 'I shall never overtake myself'. It's worth reading TS for gems as these.


Jonathan | 108 comments It just goes to show how much I was paying attention; I didn't notice that ch.24 was actually missing in vol.4, even though ch.25 begins with comments on missing chapters. Doh!


Renato (renatomrocha) | 35 comments LOL at "Doh!", Jonathan! I noticed that because I'm always aware of the page number I'm on, and when it went from 296 to 307 I thought there was something wrong with my book..., but then I remembered that on the back cover it mentions that some pages are missing - not because of any erros - but by choice of the narrator.

I really enjoyed his comments on why he took the chapter off!


message 26: by Amy (last edited Feb 04, 2015 08:30PM) (new) - added it

Amy | 21 comments Jonathan wrote: ....

I liked the concern that Tristram shows us when he says, "And now that you have just got to the end of these four volumes--the thing I have to ask is, how do you feel your heads? my own akes dismally--


As I was on the Metro when reading that sentence, I couldn't laugh out loud. I did, however, smile loudly .


message 27: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Feb 13, 2015 05:28PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) I'm feeling that the point of the entire book, despite the ornamentation and the satire on ornamentation, is that no matter what face we put on it, mental and intellectual life is about the penis. That said, Sterne seems to conclude, sometimes a banana is just a banana.

progeneration = creativity = writer = novel


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