Books

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

Laurence Sterne

WITH A NEW INTRODUCTION BY TOM MCCARTHY

Doomed to become the ‘sport of fortune’ by an interruption at the crucial moment of conception, Tristram Shandy’s life lurches from one mishap to another: his nose crushed by the doctor’s forceps during birth, christened with the wrong name, an unfortunate incident involving a slamming sash window… Discover the anti-autobiography of the hilarious and impossibly long-winded Tristram Shandy.

Tristram Shandy

Laurence Sterne

The Penguin English Library Edition of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

'I am got, I know not how, into a cold unmetaphorical vein of infamous writing, and cannot take a plumb-lift out of it for my soul; so must be obliged to go on writing like a Dutch commentator to the end of the chapter, unless something be done ...'

Laurence Sterne's great masterpiece of bawdy humour and rich satire defies any attempt to categorize it. 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 Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

Laurence Sterne (and others)

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

A Sentimental Journey

Laurence Sterne (and others)

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 novel, sets off for France on a whim, he produces no ordinary travelogue. Jolting along in his coach from Calais, through Paris, and on towards the Italian border, the amiable parson is blithely unconcerned by famous views or monuments, but he engages us with tales of his encounters with all manner of people, from counts and noblewomen to beggars and chambermaids. And as drama piles upon drama, anecdote, flirtation and digression, Yorick's destination takes second place to an exhilarating voyage of emotional and erotic exploration. Interweaving sharp wit with warm humour and irony with genuine feeling, A Sentimental Journey paints a captivating picture of an Englishman's adventures abroad.

In his introduction, Paul Goring discusses Sterne's literary career and his semi-autobiographical depiction of Yorick, and sets the novel within the context of eighteenth-century travel writing and the vogue of sentimental fiction. This edition also includes a chronology, updated further reading and notes.

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. He died the year it was published, 1768.

If you enjoyed A Sentimental Journey, you might like Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, also available in Penguin Classics.

Biography

Laurence Sterne was born in 1713, the younger son of a landowning Yorkshire family. He studied at Jesus College, Cambridge and was ordained in 1738. Sterne's dramas were mostly personal, including bitter quarrels with his wife and uncle, and some high profile affairs. The publication of the first volumes of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy in 1759 made him famous throughout Europe overnight. He went on to complete the remaining volumes over the next seven years. Sterne died in 1768 of tuberculosis, the condition that had dogged him for many years.