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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

by Laurence Sterne

Time Quotes Page 1

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Quote #1

He had made it a rule for many years of his life,—on the first Sunday night of every month throughout the whole year,—as certain as ever the Sunday night came,—to wind up a large house clock which we had standing upon the backstairs head, with his own hands:— (1.4.6)

Mr. Shandy lives by the clock, doing everything according to a schedule that he imposes on himself. (Parents are so uncool.) Naturally, Tristram rebels by playing fast and loose with time. He's a regular James Dean.

Quote #2

I declare I have been at it these six weeks, making all the speed I possibly could,—and am not yet born:—I have just been able, and that's all, to tell you when it happened" (1.14.2)

Writing stretches out time in a way that living doesn't. As anyone who's ever read a trashy book on a plane knows, reading (and writing) let us experience time in different ways—short, long, and—so much for time machines—even backwards.

Quote #3

"Pray what was the man's name,--for I write in such a hurry, I have no time to recollect or look for it" (1.21.3)

Writing is as a race against time. He's in such a hurry that he can't even be bothered to check Wikipedia and get his facts straight. How much do facts matter, anyway? (Don't bother asking a history teacher.)