Sterne and the Form of the Novel

  • Mark Loveridge


Sterne’s novels occupy a curious and quite specific position in English literary history. They were published in a period when prose fiction was entering upon a difficult time.

During the years that follow the death of Smollett… the two chief facts about the novel are its popularity as a form of entertainment and its inferiority as a form of art.1


Chief Fact True Feeler Narrative Construction Eccentric Work Imaginative Identification 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Joyce M. S. Tomkins, The Popular Novel in England, 1770–1800 (1932), p. 1.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    John Northouck, Article in Monthly Review, OS 39, 2 (July 1768), 84.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Walter Allen, The English Novel (1954), p. 81.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Charles Lamb, ‘Detached Thoughts on Books and Reading’, London Magazine (July 1822); rpt. in The Life, Letters and Writings of Charles Lamb, ed. Percy Fitzgerald (1876), III, 401.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
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  6. 5.
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  8. 6.
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  10. 8.
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  11. 9.
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  14. 13.
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  15. 14.
    e.g. A Letter from the Rev. George Whitfield to the Rev. Laurence Sterne, the supposed author of a book entitled ‘The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman’ (1760), p. 20—‘one would think the author had a cloven foot’. S. T. Coleridge, in ‘Table Talk’, 18 August 1833, says that Tristram Shandy is ‘scarce readable by women’ (Coleridge’s Miscellaneous Criticism, ed. Raysor, 1936, p. 427).Google Scholar
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  17. 17.
    John Traugott, Tristram Shandy’s World: Sterne’s Philosophical Rhetoric (Berkeley and LA, 1954).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
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  20. 20.
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  21. 23.
    John M. Stedmond, The Comic Art of Laurence Sterne: Convention and Innovation in ‘Tristram Shandy’ and ‘A Sentimental Journey’ (Toronto, 1967), p. 3. (Hereafter cited as The Comic Art of Laurence Sterne.)Google Scholar
  22. 24.
    Ronald H. Paulson, Satire and the Novel in Eighteenth-Century England (New Haven, 1967), p. 249.Google Scholar
  23. 25.
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  24. 26.
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    Ronald Saul Hafter, ‘Sterne’s Affective Art and Eighteenth-Century Psychology’ (PhD Dissertation, Brandeis, 1970), p. 58.Google Scholar
  26. 33.
    Henri Fluchère, Laurence Sterne: de l’Homme à l’Oeuvre; Biographie Critique et Essai d’Interprétation de ‘Tristram Shandy’ (Paris, 1961), p. 235.Google Scholar
  27. 36.
    Sterne’s letter to Dr John Eustace, Letters of Laurence Sterne, ed. Lewis P. Curtis (Oxford, 1935), No. 224, p. 411.Google Scholar
  28. 38.
    Victor Erlich, Russian Formalism: History-Doctrine (’S-Gravenhage, 1955) p. 166.Google Scholar
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    Victor Borisovich Shklovsky, Sentimental’noe Puteshestvie, Vospominaniya 1917–22 (Moscow-Berlin, 1923), trans. Richard Sheldon (Ithaca, NY, 1970), as A Sentimental Journey.Google Scholar
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  32. 45.
    Shklovsky, ‘Sterne’s Tristram Shandy: Stylistic Commentary’, in Russian Formalist Criticism, trans. and intro. Lee T. Lemon and Marion J. Reis (Lincoln, Nebraska, 1965), pp. 25–57. This is the monograph that Erlich calls ‘Tristram Shandy’ Sternea i Teorija Romana (see Introduction, note 11). Shklovsky called it this too: Lemon and Reis use a translation of the title on the first page of the text of Shklovsky’s monograph, which they refer to as ‘Tristram Shandy’ Sterna: Stilistichesky Kommentary.Google Scholar
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    Christopher Ricks, Introduction to Tristram Shandy, ed. Graham Petrie (Harmondsworth, 1967), pp. 26–7.Google Scholar
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    Wilfred Owen, Poems (1920), Preface, p. ix.Google Scholar
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    Ronald H. Paulson, Theme and Structure in Swift’s ‘A Tale of A Tub’, Yale Studies in English, 143 (New Haven, 1960), p. 178, n. 1.Google Scholar
  37. 57.
    Information in this paragraph is from W. R. R. Pinger, Laurence Sterne and Goethe, University of California Publications in Modern Philology, Vol. 10, I (Berkeley, Cal., 1920). See Chapter 6, ‘Imitators of Sterne’ (pp. 112–55), and pp. 28, 84–9.Google Scholar
  38. 62.
    Goethe, ‘Maximen und Reflexionen über Literatur und Ethik’, Einzelnes, III. Written 14–18 June 1826; in Werke, I, 42 (2), 160, quoted by Pinger, op. cit., p. 29: ‘Die sentimentalität der Engländer ist humoristisch und zart, dar Franzosen populär und wienerlich, der Deutschen naiv und realistich’.Google Scholar
  39. 63.
    Goethe, ‘Tagebuch’, 20 December 1829, in Werke, III, 12, 169, quoted by Pinger, op. cit., p. 41.Google Scholar
  40. 65.
    Goethe, Aus Meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit, Book XIII (1814), Trans. John Oxenford as The Autobiography of Goethe. Truth and Poetry: From My Own Life (1881), Vol. I, p. 513.Google Scholar

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© Mark Loveridge 1982

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  • Mark Loveridge

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