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