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Tristram Shandy

By Laurence Sterne (Author)
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Item description for Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne...

Tristram Shandy is an ironic masterpiece, a work of extraordinary originality, wit and learning. It is a work of considerable philosophical complexity but at the same time it is just a piece of flim-flam: it has been called the longest shaggy dog story in English Literature. It is both a classic novel and an anti-novel. It includes passages of seemingly-serious theology - but it can also be read as an elaborate bawdy joke. With music by Handel.

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Item Specifications...

Format: Abridged,   Audiobook
Studio: Naxos Audiobooks
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 5.6" Width: 4.9" Height: 1"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  CD
Release Date   Apr 30, 2005
Publisher   Naxos Audiobooks
ISBN  9626343656  
ISBN13  9789626343654  

Availability  0 units.

More About Laurence Sterne

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Laurence Sterne (1713-68) was a clergyman. The Life of Tristram Shandy made him a celebrity and he was lavishly feted when he visited London. During the latter years of his life he alternated between there and recuperative continental travels.
Melvyn and Joan New teach at the University of Florida.

Laurence Sterne was born in 1713 and died in 1768.

Laurence Sterne has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics
  2. Penguin Classics

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Product Categories

1Books > Audio CDs > Literature & Fiction > Classics
2Books > Audio CDs > Literature & Fiction > General
3Books > Audio CDs > Literature & Fiction > Unabridged
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Classics
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
7Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory > General
8Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory

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Reviews - What do customers think about Tristram Shandy?

How to Ride a Hobby-Horse  Mar 12, 2010
At the end of Volume 6 of this work, Mr. Shandy as the teller of his own life story provides a drawing of his narrative line over the previous volumes. Each one is twisted beyond all recognition, of course, since he has been doubling back, digressing, and indeed doing pretty much everything except getting a move on. He promises faithfully that in Volume 7 his narrative will resemble nothing but the very straightest of lines - he's reached the hour of his own birth (in six books) and will proceed from that moment in strict chronology, utterly without interruption. At the beginning of the next volume, however, he suddenly tells us that the Devil is after him and races off to France in an attempt to outrun the old fox - he doesn't get back to his own story until Volume 8.

This gives you an idea of what you're in for. "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy" consists primarily of the author's attempt to not tell a story - indeed, it's about practically everything in the world except its ostensible subject. While the narrator's interruptions and digressions are generally funny in themselves, there's an additional level of humor in the lengths to which he goes to get in his own way. It's a great read, but it makes things rather difficult when it comes to telling the story itself.

There's a plotline of sorts, to be sure, which has to do with the night of Tristram's birth and what a complicated project that turns out to be. In addition to that, Tristram amuses himself with chapters on the nature of obsessions (or hobby-horses, as he calls them), chapters on how to argue with your wife, chapters on sermon-making, chapters on chapters and even a chapter on digressions. This last, by the way, consists primarily of Tristram insisting that he does not have time to talk about digressions and will do it later, and when he comes to the end of the chapter immediately realizes that he has just written his chapter on digressions. Yes, it's a digression from the chapter on digressions that itself comprises the chapter on digressions. Whew.

Now, this whole business begins with Tristram complaining that his parents should have paid more attention to what they were doing at the moment he was conceived - it seems that his mother interrupted the marital act that night by suddenly asking her husband if he had remembered to wind up the clock. You can see from this initial interruption that "Tristram Shandy" bears a pretty consistent tone throughout, including the famous bit where Uncle Toby begins a sentence in Volume 1, Chapter 21, and doesn't get around to completing it until several chapters into Volume 2, Chapter 6 - a gap of about 25 pages. One might be tempted to think of this novel as just a nutty diversion from more serious matters.

This isn't entirely true. Structurally this thing looks like a Godawful mess, but then again Sterne lived at a time when the structure of the English novel was still under construction. More importantly, although the content of the novel veers all over everything, the thematic elements don't. What you get here is commentary, from a variety of angles, on the pernicious effects of taking yourself too seriously. Tristram's father, for instance, an intelligent man, has retreated into the country for uninterrupted study and thus come up with some of the screwiest notions in literature. He thinks, for instance, that a man's destiny is governed to an enormous extent by the size of his nose and by his first name, of which the name "Tristram" is by far the most destructive. So you can imagine how upset he gets when a faulty set of forceps flattens his baby son's nose at the very moment of birth, and when an incompetent cleric christens the boy by that horrid name a few minutes later.

All unbelievably ridiculous, of course, made more so by the careful, studious, and above all lengthy manner of telling. Tristram quotes all manner of ancient and contemporary scholars on these subjects, as indeed on all subjects. Thus we come to understand that this kind of pedantry, even on the most critical topic, makes fools of us all.

That is to say, what makes all these interruptions and diversions so hysterical is that the narrator actually thinks they're all necessary - he has his reasons for each and every one. He's not just a madman; on the contrary, he's so intent on demonstrating what he means that all he comes up with is nonsense.

Of course, no one should require 450 pages to communicate a point like that, so Sterne was careful to make all his sub-stories as entertaining as possible. He succeeded beautifully, too. "Tristram Shandy" was a huge popular success, so much so that those who disliked it had to publish their disdain in the daily papers. Which is fine, except that many of them objected to the undeniably bawdy subject matter, declaring that literature ought to have a moral purpose behind it and decrying the vulgarity of popular taste. Sterne couldn't have come up with a better piece of nonsense if he'd tried - here were some of the generation's brightest minds getting as finicky about a harmless amusement as the biggest fools in the novel itself about their various hobby-horses. The author might as well have jumped up and yelled "Gotcha!"

You might take that as a warning. If you read this thing resisting its diversions from what you might consider good sense or taste, it will trip you up on every page. So just enjoy the ride.

Benshlomo says, What?
Excellent  Jan 31, 2010
It was in wonderful condition and came in a timely manner. I'm quite happy with the purchase!
Easier and cheaper than the bookstores  Jan 21, 2010
This was an easy way to buy my daughter's books for college. We will do it this way from now on.
Great performance.  Oct 27, 2009
Anton Lessor gives a performance worthy of this classic. I am writing a paper on Tristram Shandy for school and thought, hey, what the heck I'll listen to it in my car. Walter Shandy and Uncle Toby are characters that rank with Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. The phrasing and nuance that Lessor gives to Shandy actually provides more humour than you might find on your own. Your get the benefit of someone who has read the material several times and knows where all the jokes are, so you can benefit the first time around. Thoroughly professional preparation is demonstrated by Lessor. When Sterne writes --- or *** just what is a voice actor supposed to do? Somehow Lessor makes a great decision almost every time. That is what I mean when I say it is funnier than reading it on your own. Uncle Toby and Walter talking about "the right end of a woman" is priceless.
By the way, the service from England by mail is pretty good, so save some money and buy it from one of the third party vendors. Enjoy.

Amazing Novel--But you must know your information first  Apr 19, 2009
"The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" is a terrific novel; yet it is very demanding upon the reader. Before you begin to read this book you must first have read Don Quixote, and more importantly Henry Fielding's Tom Jones. No one should really even attempt to read Shandy if you have not read Tom Jones because Fielding's novel will at least "warm up" a reader to the writing style in Shandy. Also, you should be very aware of Locke and his views as they are deeply seeded into this novel as well. If you do not have a strong literature background, I do not recommend reading this novel as it will either only confuse you or you may miss very important aspects of Shandy. (Even an undergrad literature education is probably not enough for one to fully comprehend this work). However, if you do decide to read Shandy, make sure you have a good version of the book, I recommend the Penguin Classics. Of all the versions of Shandy which I have encounted I have found Penguin Classics to have the best Notes in the back of the book. Also, if you are going to read this novel, ***read the notes in the back as well, they are there for a reason and quite helpful.
(Another important hint, research Sterne's life before reading this novel; one cannot fully comprehend a work without great knowledge of the author)

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