Saturday, December 27, 2008

David Lodge and Laurence Sterne

(from The Art of Fiction, the essay entitled "The Reader in the Text," which sounds like it might be full of post modern gloop, but is, in fact, full of fun and useful to boot.)

"Laurence Sterne, narrating under the light disguise of Tristram Shandy, plays all kinds of games with the narator-narratee relationship. Rather like a music-hall comedian who plants stooges in the audience, and integrates their heckling into his act, he sometimes personifies his reader as a Lady or a Gentleman whom he teases, criticizes and flatters, for the entertainment and instruction of the rest of us.

Tristram Shandy is a highly idiosyncratic novel whose eponymous narrator undertakes to relate his life from the moment of his conception to adulthood, but never gets beyond his fifth year because the attempt to describe and explain every incident faithfully and exhaustively leads him into endless digression."

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