Study Guide

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman Book 3, Chapter 18

By Laurence Sterne

Book 3, Chapter 18

  • Time is just ticking by. It's been two hours and ten minutes since Dr. Slop arrived at Shandy Hall. Mr. Shandy is amazed, since it seems like forever. How can that be?
  • Here we go. Mr. Shandy is about to break down some pretty complex concepts about how digression can lengthen time when Toby cuts him off with his own brilliant idea: it's because of the way their conversation has gone from idea to idea.
  • Way to steal Mr. Shandy's thunder, Toby.
  • But Toby doesn't know what he's talking about, so Mr. Shandy gets all philosophical: as long as you're thinking, you know you exist; and existence seems to be as long as the duration and succession of ideas, which happens in every man's mind. Heavy stuff.
  • My ideas are going around like a roasting spit! Toby exclaims. Us, too.