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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 Analysis

Literary Devices in The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Setting

Although most of the novel takes place on the Shandy estate, Tristram and everyone else (except his mother) jet off to Europe in the seventh book.Welcome to the 1760s—a time not altogether unlike...

Narrator Point of View

Tristram's like the Wizard of Oz, pulling strings and making his marionettes (i.e. family) dance. By now you shouldn't be surprised that, even though the book is called The Life and Opinions of Tri...

Genre

The obvious answer to "What genre is Tristram Shandy" is "Autobiography." It is, after all, called The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Wouldn't it be nice to have it be that simple...

Tone

Tristram Shandy takes the tone of a golden retriever puppy: boisterous, full of life, and a little bit out of control. Tristram talks to his readers as though they're right beside him, reminding th...

Writing Style

If pens had to breathe, Tristram's pen would have suffocated to death before he finished his first chapter. He writes like someone who won't stop yammering long enough to breathe or someone who nev...

What's Up With the Title?

At first glance, the title (The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman) seems like a joke. Tristram Shandy hardly appears in his narrative at all, and when he does he mostly complains abou...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

Book 3: Multitudinis imperitae non formido judicia; meis tamen, rogo, parcant opusculis—in quibus fuit propositi semper, a jocis ad seria, a seriis vicissim ad jocos transire. "I do not fear the...

What's Up With the Ending?

The Shandys put the Ringling Bros. to shame: the ending is one crazy circus. Obadiah got married on the same day he took his cow to be impregnated by Mr. Shandy's bull, after his wife has already g...

Tough-o-Meter

Tristram Shandy actually turns the Tough-o-Meter to 11. Not only is it old, but it's rambling, digressive, and idiosyncratic to boot. Don't bother looking for a plot, because you won't find one. In...

Plot Analysis

Is Anybody Gonna Listen to My Story?The full title of Tristram Shandy is The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. And it's not the first to give someone's life the royal treatment: Ster...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

The CallOne thing's for sure: Tristram's itching to write his crazy story. He doesn't really give a clear-cut reason, but check out the dedication for a clue: he says I live in a constant endeavour...

Three-Act Plot Analysis

Patching together a linear plot from Tristram Shandy requires some Memento-style maneuvering. If the point of Tristram Shandy is for the narrator to tell the story of his life, then Act 1 would tak...

Trivia

Viktor Shklovsky called Tristram Shandy the "most typical" novel in world literature. Does that make Twilight atypical? ("The Novel as Parody," On the Theory of Prose [1925])According to legend, St...

Steaminess Rating

Turn down the radiator, because Tristram Shandy is as steamy as it gets. After all, it begins with an orgasm and ends with a stud bull. There are lots of dirty jokes and some sexy stories, like Tri...

Allusions

We're going to need a bigger list: this is a lot of shout-outs. All books—all respectable books, at least—from around Tristram Shandy's era contained a lot of shout-outs. That's how the author...

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