The first Hive book club will be held the morning of the January 18th Hive. Our first book will be, "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" by Laurence Sterne. The discussion will be lead by today's guest blogger, Matthew Mees. The book is available for free download at the Project Gutenberg website.
Laurence Sterne wrote The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman from 1759 to 1767 in nine volumes. The book is episodic, digressive and includes some experiments with page layout and typography. Several chapters are written in Latin (with translation). Some parts of the story are described by squiggles on the page.
Tristram Shandy describes his life along with those of family members, family friends, servants and passerbys. Some characters describe the lives and events of people we never meet and there are a number of people introduced simply to illustrate a literary point.
There are several jokes in the book. For some of these, the punch line is obvious from the horizon; the Reader just does not know how the joke will be finally delivered. Some jokes sneak up on the reader; some are nearly lost within a maze of digressions; others seem puzzling.
There is bawdy and heartfelt sentiment as well as loving descriptions of absorbing "Hobbyhorse" interests.
John Adams, Voltaire and Goethe loved the book; Dr. Johnson said it was a passing fad and would soon be forgotten.
I read and reread this book because of the voices and narrative power. Sterne wrote to the reader, directly. The whole work is conversational and when reading, we can clearly hear the voices of people from many different walks of life. Sterne offers us an open door to his world, his world of family and village politics; love and economy;childbirth theories and fortifications; all to the tune of Lillabullero.
On the 18th, I plan to give examples to illustrate all of the above points and hope to produce several tableaux vivants, dramatizing striking events of the novel.
Please read the book, enlarge your family and see if it is indeed not full as well to have the curtain of the tennaile a straight line as a crooked one.