Let’s Get Literal – Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

List Item: Read 100 of the greatest works of fiction
Progress: 50/100Title: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Author: Laurence Sterne
Year: 1759-1767
Country: UK

I am getting the sneaking suspicion that, when it comes to books written in the 1700s, I am going to have a bad time of it. Tristram Shandy is one of those novels that I can imagine putting me off reading for life should it have been part of my school curriculum. Sure, I didn’t find it as off-putting as Tom Jones or as racist as Robinson Crusoe, but it committed two cardinal sins when it comes to reading: Tristram Shandy both annoyed and bored me.

Like with Tom Jones I have seen so many people praise this book for being funny… but I honestly could not find a single thing in this book to make me remotely chuckle. Even the bit about his accidental circumcision failed to raise too much of a reaction out of me more than a simple ‘huh’.

Whilst I am not one for always getting to the main point on things (to which this blog stands as testament) I really abhorred the ridiculous amount of digressions in this book. I know that kinda the whole point of this novel, to the point that it’s a number of volumes between his conception and his actual birth, but I just found it aggravating. Smug as well, interminably smug and keen to show just how learned he was (both as an author and as a central character).

Considering how I felt bout this book, it’s a bit of an anti-climax that this is the book that this marks the halfway point through this particular list. I’m in two minds as to whether I should try and clear out this list of the rest of the pre-1800s books (if there are any left at this point) or pick a book I have more of an assurance that I’ll enjoy. Guess I’ll see where the commute takes me.

 

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