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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 Knowledge Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"All I contend for, is the utter impossibility, for some books, that you, or the most penetrating spirits upon earth, should know how this matter really stands" (1.18.12)

Despite how it seems, Tristram is going to keep his lips zipped. Writing allows readers to gain knowledge about events and character, but a good book has to gradually unveil itself, and Tristram, like a regular Agatha Christie, prides himself on keeping knowledge from even the cleverest reader.

Quote #2

"our minds shine not through the body, but are wrapt up here in a dark covering of uncrystallized flesh and blood; so that if we could come to the specific characters of them, we must go some other way to work" (1.23.4)

The truth about people isn't in their exterior but in the interiors, and in fact bodies just get in the way. This is kind of odd, because (thanks again, Facebook) it suggests that the best way to gain knowledge about people isn't actually to interact with them.

Quote #3

"the desire of knowledge, like the thirst of riches, increases ever with the acquisition of it" (2.3.3)

This statement makes knowledge seem like something that you can own and hoard, which suggests that after a certain point it's just superfluous. All the money in the world is great, but it just stops mattering after a while—we hear. (We sure wouldn't know from experience.) Someone like Walter Shandy, who hoards knowledge, can't actually use it in any meaningful way.

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