Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

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I do not dread the judgements of the ignorant multitude; I ask, however, that they spare my little works in which it was always the design to pass in turn from jests to serious matters and from serious matters to jests

Translation of the epigraph to Volume III

I picked up Laurence Sterne’s novel again this week. “Again” because when I finished reading volumes I and II last year I thought I might read the rest of the novel following the original publication of the volumes (the novel being published between 1759 and 1767), and there was a year gap between the publication of the first two volumes and III and IV.

This has also handily (and you might say it was the sole purpose of my decision) given me a strategy to navigate a novel – one that is often labelled as one of the greatest comic novels in the English language – that I feel purposefully pushes back at its readers.

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