The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (with an Introduction by Wilbur L. Cross) (Kobo eBook)

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“The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman”, when originally published from 1759 to 1767, was an experimental novel far ahead of its time. The titular character, Shandy narrates the story of his life, beginning with his conception and focusing on his family, particularly his unconventional father Walter and his gentle Uncle Toby. One of the recurrent jokes in the novel, Shandy cannot explain anything concisely and Sterne utilizes many narrative devices to accommodate Shandy’s digressions on countless subjects, especially human disconnection and his doubts about truly knowing himself. His disorderly account is rich in minor characters, especially Dr. Slop, Toby’s servant Corporal Trim, and the parson Yorick. Though the novel is ostensibly about Shandy and his life, most of the work focuses on the characters surrounding him and their reactions to their daily lives and struggles. While criticized by Sterne’s peers, the novel was immediately and wildly popular in London, perhaps because it was full of coarse humor and satire and did not fear to discuss taboo and scandalous subjects. Generally considered one of the greatest comic novels of English literature, it was widely influential on modern and post-modern writers and philosophers. This edition includes an introduction by Wilbur L. Cross and a biographical afterword.