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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 3, Chapter 12 Summary

  • Before the door opens, Tristram is going to give you the low-down on oaths.
  • Hold up. Tristram digresses into a rant about connoisseurs who have so many rules that they can't appreciate works of genius.
  • Think the type of person who can't focus on a famous actor's performance—they're too busy critiquing his grammar. Or, you know, someone who gets hung up on the printing style of a new book. Basically, a good reader needs to chill out about the nitty-gritty details and have a good chuckle instead.
  • But back to oaths. All oaths for the past 250 years are just wonky copies of the original, like Ernulphus's excommunication. But Mr. Shandy disagrees: he thinks Ernulphus was simply collecting other people's stronger swears against their inevitable decline.

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