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arbieroo

Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Charles Darwin: A New Life
John Bowlby
Progress: 204/527 pages
An Introduction to Magnetohydrodynamics
P.A. DAVIDSON, E.J. Hinch, S.H. Davis, Mark J. Ablowitz
Progress: 27/452 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia: Malafrena / Stories and Songs (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 359/700 pages
Plasma physics
R.A. Cairns
Progress: 4/244 pages
Selected Short Stories - Conrad (Wordsworth Classics)
Keith Carabine, Joseph Conrad
Progress: 37/272 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 108/1102 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe
She Stoops to Conquer and Other Comedies (Oxford World's Classics)
Henry Fielding, David Garrick, Oliver Goldsmith
Progress: 76/448 pages
Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being
Ted Hughes
Progress: 367/517 pages

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne

Tristram Shandy - Laurence Sterne

So...this book is one giant joke constructed of smaller jokes and it takes the mick out of nigh on everything; novels, novelists, travel, travel writers, army officers, doctors, clergymen, amours, marriage, you name it, and not least readers.

 

Considered by some to be the first Modernist novel, appearing nearly two centuries before the term was coined, there's no over-all plot and only a few episodes that could really constitute something approaching a sub-plot, there are blank chapters, a space for one to do a portrait of one of the characters and other visual puns, including one on the structure of the book itself and on and on but the main approach is to digress; the digressions pile one on another so high that we don't get to the titular character's birth until about p150...it all crazy, irreverent, scandalous for the time (especially being written by a member of the clergy) and very, very silly if one just goes along with the mood and drops any expectation of even the normal conventions of the novel of the period, let alone the present day.

 

But - there had to be one, right? But, after a while the jokes wear thin through repetition, the later stages dragging because of it. Originally released as nine books over a period of years, contemporaries could not have done what we all do now and pick it up as a single volume and try to read it from start to finish in one focused push - and that was to its advantage. Serial publication meant one could not over-dose very easily, which I did despite taking months of not really hurrying. It might be better read as originally published; as nine separate books spread out over a much longer period of time than I took.