THE LIFE AND OPINIONS OF TRISTRAM SHANDY, GENT. (1759-1767) by Laurence Sterne
MY REVIEW (CONTINUED FROM HERE) TAKES PLACE IN THE COMMENT STREAM BELOW AS AND WHEN I READ EACH SECTION:-
“—But softly—for in these sportive plains, and under this genial sun, where at this instant all flesh is running out piping, fiddling, and dancing to the vintage, and every step that’s taken, the judgment is surprised by the imagination, I defy, notwithstanding all that has been said upon straight lines in sundry pages of my book—I defy the best cabbage planter that ever existed, whether he plants backwards or forwards, it makes little difference in the account (except that he will have more to answer for in the one case than in the other)—I defy him to go on coolly, critically, and canonically, planting his cabbages one by one, in straight lines, and stoical distances, especially if slits in petticoats are unsew’d up—without ever and anon straddling out, or sidling into some bastardly digression—In Freeze-land, Fog-land, and some other lands I wot of—it may be done—”
“For my own part, I am resolved never to read any book but my own, as long as I live.”
“From all which it was plain that widow Wadman was in love with my uncle Toby.
My uncle Toby’s head at that time was full of other matters, so that it was not till the demolition of Dunkirk, when all the other civilities of Europe were settled, that he found leisure to return this.
This made an armistice (that is, speaking with regard to my uncle Toby—but with respect to Mrs. Wadman, a vacancy)—of almost eleven years. But in all cases of this nature, as it is the second blow, happen at what distance of time it will, which makes the fray—I chuse for that reason to call these the amours of my uncle Toby with Mrs. Wadman, rather than the amours of Mrs. Wadman with my uncle Toby.”
“The Story of the King of Bohemia and His Seven Castles, Continued.
There was a certain king of Bohemia, but in whose reign, except his own, I am not able to inform your honour—
I do not desire it of thee, Trim, by any means, cried my uncle Toby.
—It was a little before the time, an’ please your honour, when giants were beginning to leave off breeding:—”
“—I see him with the knot of his scarfe just shot off,…”
“There is no part of the body, an’ please your honour, where a wound occasions more intolerable anguish than upon the knee—
Except the groin; said my uncle Toby.”
“I had escaped, continued the corporal, all that time from falling in love, and had gone on to the end of the chapter, had it not been predestined otherwise—there is no resisting our fate.”
“I wish I may but manage it right; said my uncle Toby—but I declare, corporal, I had rather march up to the very edge of a trench—
—A woman is quite a different thing—said the corporal.
—I suppose so, quoth my uncle Toby.”
“It pleased my father well; it was not only a laconick way of expressing—but of libelling, at the same time, the desires and appetites of the lower part of us; so that for many years of my father’s life, ’twas his constant mode of expression—he never used the word passions once—but ass always instead of them—So that he might be said truly, to have been upon the bones, or the back of his own ass, or else of some other man’s, during all that time.
I must here observe to you the difference betwixt My father’s ass and my hobby-horse—in order to keep characters as separate as may be, in our fancies as we go along.”
“—I think the procreation of children as beneficial to the world, said Yorick, as the finding out the longitude—”
“Shave the whole top of thy crown clean once at least every four or five days, but oftner if convenient; lest in taking off thy wig before her, thro’ absence of mind, she should be able to discover how much has been cut away by Time—how much by Trim.”
“—it will be well: but suffer her not to look into Rabelais, or Scarron, or Don Quixote—
—They are all books which excite laughter; and thou knowest, dear Toby, that there is no passion so serious as lust.”
“The mistake in my father, was in attacking my mother’s motive, instead of the act itself; for certainly key-holes were made for other purposes; and considering the act, as an act which interfered with a true proposition, and denied a key-hole to be what it was—it became a violation of nature; and was so far, you see, criminal.”
“Now my uncle Toby did fear; and grievously too; he knew not (as my father had reproach’d him) so much as the right end of a Woman from the wrong, and therefore was never altogether at his ease near any one of them—unless in sorrow or distress;…”
“A thousand of my father’s most subtle syllogisms could not have said more for celibacy.”
“I will not argue the matter: Time wastes too fast: every letter I trace tells me with what rapidity Life follows my pen: the days and hours of it, more precious, my dear Jenny! than the rubies about thy neck, are flying over our heads like light clouds of a windy day, never to return more—every thing presses on—whilst thou art twisting that lock,—see!”
“Or my chapter of Knots, in case their reverences have done with them—they might lead me into mischief: the safest way is to follow the track of the learned, and raise objections against what I have been writing, tho’ I declare before-hand, I know no more than my heels how to answer them.”
“The fifteenth chapter is come at last; and brings nothing with it but a sad signature of ‘How our pleasures slip from under us in this world!'”
“True philosophy—but there is no treating the subject whilst my uncle is whistling Lillabullero.”
“—And the story too—if you please: for though I have all along been hastening towards this part of it, with so much earnest desire, as well knowing it to be the choicest morsel of what I had to offer to the world, yet now that I am got to it, any one is welcome to take my pen, and go on with the story for me that will—I see the difficulties of the descriptions I’m going to give—and feel my want of powers.”
“—That provision should be made for continuing the race of so great, so exalted and godlike a Being as man—I am far from denying—but philosophy speaks freely of every thing; and therefore I still think and do maintain it to be a pity, that it should be done by means of a passion which bends down the faculties, and turns all the wisdom, contemplations, and operations of the soul backwards—”
“—The act of killing and destroying a man, continued my father, raising his voice—and turning to my uncle Toby—you see, is glorious—and the weapons by which we do it are honourable—We march with them upon our shoulders—We strut with them by our sides—We gild them—We carve them—We in-lay them—We enrich them—Nay, if it be but a scoundrel cannon, we cast an ornament upon the breach of it.—”
The links to the eight parts of the Tristram Shandy real-time review:
https://nemonymousnight.wordpress.com/600-2/ (this one)
A significant comparison of Tristram Shandy with an Alasdair Gray book collection: http://cernzoo.wordpress.com/269-2/#comment-315
My much earlier review of Jacques the Fatalist by Denis Diderot of significant comparison: http://nemonymous123456.wordpress.com/541-2/#comment-670
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