Laurence Sterne's Life
Laurence Sterne was born in 1713 in Ireland.
 He graduated at Jesus College.
 Postgraduate he became vicar in
 In 1741 he got married with Elizabeth Lumley and they had
two children.
He started his career in 1759 when
he published a pamphlet called A
Political Romance.
 His two masterpieces are: The Life
and Opinions of Tristram Shandy,
Gentleman; A Sentimental Journey
through France and Italy.
The Life and The Opinions of Tristram Shandy,
The story is about the mad
Shandy family and their friends.
The main protagonist is Tristram,
full of vitality humour and interest
in sexual matters, who is also the
narrator. All the characters are
eccentric to say the least:
Tristram father has a passion for
conversations with snatches from
all fields of learnings; his uncle
has a mad passion for military
fortifications; other characters
include Dr Slop, an incompetent
Laurence Sterne is considered the
first writer to use the stream of
consciousness technique.
 The plot is non-existent.
 Sterne takes advantage of every
opportunity to introduce personal
thoughts, considerations and
 His digressions even consist of
graphic jokes like empty or marbledesigned pages, a whole chapter
composed of only one word Alas!,
written in bigger letters, pages of
lines and dots and dashes only!
 Clock time is abandoned for the
psychological time.
 Another aspect oh his originality lies
in the attention he gives to detail, like
A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy
A Sentimental Journey,
published in 1768, consists in a
description of his travel through
France, expecially in Paris, and
Italy, where he visited Milan,
Rome, Florence and Naples.
 He shows the impossibility to
describe the enormous chaotic
things that form people's life.
 One of the topics of this novel
is the isolation of the man, the
difficulty to communicate with
other people.
 Sterne thinks that everyone is
obsessed by his own “hobby
horses” .
The novel starts with a
sentence took by the
middle of a conversation:
They order, said I, this
matter better in France,
and go on even if we don't
know who is the narrator,
where he is, what he is
doing and what id the
matter of the conversation.
Moreover, the novel don't have a real conclusion, it finishes with : So
that when I stretch’d out my hand, I caught hold of the Fille de
Chambre’s. In this way, we don't know who is the subject and we
don't know how the story real finishes!
Quotations from Tristram Shandy and A Sentimental Journey:
I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them,
as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what
they were about when they were then doing.( Tristram Shandy
"Pray, my dear," quoth my mother, "have you not forgot to
wind up the clock?" — "Good G—!" cried my father, making
an exclamation, but taking care to moderate his voice at the
same time, — "Did ever woman, since the creation of the
world, interrupt a man with such a silly question?" ( Tristram
Shandy )
Tis known by the name of perseverance in a good cause —
and of obstinacy in a bad one. ( Tristram Shandy )
They order, said I, this matter better in France. ( A
Sentimental Journey )
Avrei voluto che mio padre e mia madre, o in verità
entrambi, poiché entrambi erano tenuti a farlo, pensassero a
quello che facevano quando mi hanno concepito.
Scusate, mio caro, disse mia madre, non avete dimenticato di
ricaricare l'orologio?——Buon D—! esclamò mio padre,
lasciandosi sfuggire un'imprecazione, ma avendo l'accortezza
al tempo stesso di non alzare troppo la voce——. Quando mai
una donna, dalla creazione del mondo ai giorni nostri, ha
interrotto qualcuno con una domanda così sciocca? E che
cosa stava dicendo vostro padre?——Niente, naturalmente.
È nota col nome di perseveranza quando si tratta di una
buona causa, e di testardaggine quando la causa è cattiva.
«A questo in Francia si provvede meglio» diss'io
Ma questo c'entra come i cavoli a merenda perché ne parlo? Chiedetelo alla mia penna è
lei a dominarmi, io non la domino.

presentazione sterne