The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman – Laurence Sterne (1974)


The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman – Laurence Sterne (1974)


Title: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

Author: Laurence Sterne, Graham Petrie (ed.), Gilbert Phelps (intro), John Lawrence (illus)

Publisher: The Folio Society, 1974.

Condition: Hardcover, cloth, with slipcase. Good. Slipcase sunned and spine title coming off slightly (see photos). Top edge dyed brown. Text clean, binding tight. With in-text wood engravings. 493pp., 9″x6″.

SKU: tristram-folio Categories: ,

About the book (from Wikipedia):

As its title suggests, the book is ostensibly Tristram’s narration of his life story. But it is one of the central jokes of the novel that he cannot explain anything simply, that he must make explanatory diversions to add context and colour to his tale, to the extent that Tristram’s own birth is not even reached until Volume III.

Consequently, apart from Tristram as narrator, the most familiar and important characters in the book are his father Walter, his mother, his Uncle Toby, Toby’s servant Trim, and a supporting cast of popular minor characters, including the chambermaid Susannah, Doctor Slop and the parson Yorick, who later became Sterne’s favourite nom de plume and a very successful publicity stunt. Yorick is also the protagonist of Sterne’s second work of fiction, A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy.

Most of the action is concerned with domestic upsets or misunderstandings, which find humour in the opposing temperaments of Walter—splenetic, rational, and somewhat sarcastic—and Uncle Toby, who is gentle, uncomplicated, and a lover of his fellow man.

In between such events, Tristram as narrator finds himself discoursing at length on sexual practices, insults, the influence of one’s name and noses, as well as explorations of obstetrics, siege warfare and philosophy, as he struggles to marshal his material and finish the story of his life.