Analysis: Steaminess Rating
Exactly how steamy is this story?
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 Trim's fond memory of the nun who took care of him after his leg wound, and Tristram's equally fond memory of the pretty peasant Nanette, whom he met in the south of France.
But all the sexiness is buried under subtext and implication, and Tristram continually insists that he's writing a clean book. No one actually has sex, except for the Shandys, and their sex is scheduled and business-like. All of the really good sex happens offstage or in the past, and that might be part of the melancholy side of the book. Still, Tristram's not fooling anyone with his feigned innocence.