Laurence Sterne

BookLaurence Sterne

Laurence Sterne

Writers and Their Work


January 11th, 2001

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Despite the immense popularity of Laurence Sterne’s work during his lifetime, his contribution to the novel form and experimentalism has only been acknowledged since his death. His contemporaries Richardson and Goldsmith denounced his archaic methods and took offence at his playful irreverence but his oddity is never accidental nor perverse; it is the strategy of an inventive, thoughtful, comic talent. Tristram Shandy, perhaps his best loved work, defies convention at every turn, distributing narrative content across a bafflingly idiosyncratic time-scheme interrupted by digressions, authorial comments and interferences with the printed fabric of the book. This comically fragmented story line is a reaction against the linear narratives of Fielding and Richardson; aiming instead at a realistic impressionism, a shape determined by the association of ideas. This study critiques Sterne’s work in the light of modern literary theory, questioning whether he was an artist before his time.

Author Information

Manfred Pfister is Professor of English Literature at the Free University, Berlin. He has lectured at the Universities of Munich and Passau, as well as being guest Professor at the Universities of Sussex and East Anglia. Dr Pfister has written and edited books and essays on a wide range of subjects, notably The Theory and Analysis of Drama (CUP, 1988) and The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Italies of British Travellers (Rodopi, 1996), and is currently engaged in anthologising and translating 17th to 19th century English poetry.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Half Title2
Title Page4
Biographical Outline8
1 Swiftly Sterneward12
2 Life and Opinions21
3 Writing the Hobby-Horse42
4 A Cock and Bull Story61
5 English Transports and French Frictions86
Select Bibliography122