Study Guide

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman Book 1, Chapter 19

By Laurence Sterne

Book 1, Chapter 19

  • You might be surprised to discover that Mr. Shandy has some more strong ideas he'd like to share—about naming, this time. In particular, he thinks that names have a magical influence over a person's character. Skeptical? He asks if you'd agree to name your kid Judas. Of course not—no one would.
  • (This argument shows that Mr. Shandy is a great philosopher, even though he'd never read most major philosophers.)
  • What's more, he continues, names can't be changed. Although some names are neutral, like Jack, Dick, and Tom, others—like Andrew and Nick—are "worse than nothing" (1.19.10). Worst of all?
  • Tristram. (Ouch).
  • Mr. Shandy hates this name so much that two years before his son was born, he wrote an entire book about how awful it is. Folks, that is dedication.