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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 Literature and Writing Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

As you proceed further with me, the slight acquaintance which is now beginning betwixt us will grow into familiarity; and that, unless one of us is in fault, will terminate in friendship.—O diem praeclarum!—then nothing which has touched me will be thought trifling in its nature, or tedious in its telling. (1.6.1)

As we read Tristram Shandy, we're going to get to know Tristram and even come to like him (surprise, surprise). Reading a book is like making friends with the author, and, just like you want to stay up until four in the morning sharing secrets with your friends, you're going to find yourself interested in the little details of Tristram's life. Tristram's bringing the popcorn.

Quote #2

—Every author has a way of his own in bringing his points to bear. (1.9.1)

Writing is individual. It's an expression of a person's identity, so you can't use absolute rules to judge it. Every book has to be judged on its own merits and on the plan of its particular author—or so insists our very individual and idiosyncratic author.

Quote #3

[W]holly intent are we upon satisfying the impatience of our concupiscence that way,—that nothing but the gross and more carnal parts of a composition will go down:—The subtle hints and sly communications of science fly off, like spirits, upwards;—the heavy moral escapes downwards. (1.20.5)

Tristram is worried that, without instruction, his reader's going to miss the point of the story. We get so interested in the sexy bits that we forget to pay attention to the serious part of the novel. No, seriously, we're reading it for the articles.

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