Laurence Sterne

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
  • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

  • Brought to you by Penguin.

    Endlessly digressive, boundlessly imaginative and unmatched in its absurd and timeless wit, Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is edited with an introduction by Melvin New and Joan New, and includes a critical essay by Christopher Ricks in Penguin Classics.

    Laurence Sterne's great masterpiece of bawdy humour and rich satire defies any attempt to categorize it, with a rich metafictional narrative that might classify it as the first 'postmodern' novel. Part novel, part digression, its gloriously disordered narrative interweaves the birth and life of the unfortunate 'hero' Tristram Shandy, the eccentric philosophy of his father Walter, the amours and military obsessions of Uncle Toby, and a host of other characters, including Dr Slop, Corporal Trim and the parson Yorick. A joyful celebration of the endless possibilities of the art of fiction, Tristram Shandy is also a wry demonstration of its limitations.

    The text and notes of this volume are based on the acclaimed Florida Edition, with a critical introduction by Melvyn New and Christopher Ricks's introductory essay from the first Penguin Classics edition.

    Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) graduated from Cambridge in 1737 and took holy orders, becoming a prebend in York Cathedral. His masterpiece, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman made him a celebrity but ill-health necessitated recuperative travel and A Sentimental Journey grew out of a seven-month trip through France and Italy.

    If you enjoyed The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, you might like Henry Fielding's Tom Jones, also available in Penguin Classics.

    'The excellent Florida Tristram Shandy ... will be the definitive edition'
    Studies in English Literature

    'The book that I would never tire of ... Sterne was about 250 years ahead of his time'
    Roy Porter, author of Enlightenment: Britain And The Creation Of The Modern World


    © the Board of Regents of the State of Florida, 1978, 2003 (P) Penguin Audio 2022

RELEASED 30/06/2022

Born in Clonmel, Ireland, in 1713, Laurence Sterne spent the first ten years of his life moving from place to place within Ireland and also Yorkshire, as his father, an army ensign, was assigned and reassigned constantly. Educated at a grammar school near Halifax, Sterne took a place at Jesus College, Cambridge in 1733, two years after his father died of a fever in Jamaica. Going on to become a clergyman, he published four sermons during his lifetime - but it was for his literary works that he earned great acclaim, particularly The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, his nine-volume masterpiece, which made him a celebrity. Dogged by ill-health for much of his life, he took various recuperative trips to the continent, the experience of which formed the experience behind his final work, A Sentimental Journey, published barely three weeks before his death in London in 1768 at the age of fifty-four.

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