Study Guide

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman Book 8, Chapter 19

By Laurence Sterne

Book 8, Chapter 19

  • It's neither funny nor sad, Trim says, so it's perfect for Toby's current frame of mind. Trim assumes his position, and begins a story about the King of Bohemia and his Seven Castles.
  • "There was a king of Bohe—"
  • And here Trim stops, picks up his tattered Spanish cap (which we first heard about in Book 6, chapter 24), and then sets it down again to give a speech about the fact that nothing lasts forever. Having said that, however, there's nothing more to say, and so he continues his story.
  • "There was a certain king of Bohemia, but in whose region …"
  • And here Trim stops again, and he and Toby argue about whether or not it's important to know where the story is set. And then they argue about whether it's important to know when it's set, and then whether a soldier needs to know anything about chronology or geography, and then the use of gunpowder. And so on, until Trim has tried to tell the story three more times, never getting farther than the first line. The chapter finally ends when Toby and Trim disagree about where the most painful wound is. Trim says the knee, and Toby, of course, says the groin.
  • When Toby starts to talk about the groin, Mrs. Wadman, who's been listening to this whole conversation, perks up her ears.