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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman


by Laurence Sterne

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman Book 1, Chapter 19 Summary

  • You might be surprised to discover that Mr. Shandy has some more strong ideas he'd like to share—about naming, this time. In particular, he thinks that names have a magical influence over a person's character. Skeptical? He asks if you'd agree to name your kid Judas. Of course not—no one would.
  • (This argument shows that Mr. Shandy is a great philosopher, even though he'd never read most major philosophers.)
  • What's more, he continues, names can't be changed. Although some names are neutral, like Jack, Dick, and Tom, others—like Andrew and Nick—are "worse than nothing" (1.19.10). Worst of all?
  • Tristram. (Ouch).
  • Mr. Shandy hates this name so much that two years before his son was born, he wrote an entire book about how awful it is. Folks, that is dedication.

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