Literary Analysis Of Sterne's Tristram Shandy

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Yet, if they are at all similar to so many intellectuals that I have encountered, they may attempt to rectify their frustration by asking, "okay, but what does this chaos mean? How can we interpret it?" It is here that I would like to interrupt the reader and suggest that Sterne's Tristram Shandy is most significant when we reject interpretation and appreciate the novel for the chaotic creation that it is. Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of the work that one may yearn to dissect is Sterne's weaving in of "unusual" pages. As Müller states, these pages exist to "[disrupt] the uniformity and seriality of the printed book" through their incongruity with the typographical medium (118). By incorporating these "elements from another world,"…show more content…
Yet, it seems necessary to advise against this. For, while Müller goes on to argue that "these pages are not meant to be read," but rather "looked at," I would like to extend this statement and suggest that they are not meant to be 'read' in the sense of interpretation, either (116). By deeming the marbled page the "motley emblem of [his] work," it appears that Sterne is suggesting that its rebellious, "baffling", and abstract nature is representative of the novel as a whole (Sterne 180, Voogd 110). In a way, these characteristics represent everything that the "Shandean book" is intended to be: "a careless kind of a civil, nonsensical, good humoured" creation (Sterne 351). Thus, my…show more content…
It is not necessarily a "stream of consciousness" style, as some would say, but rather a constant flow of "meandering asides," "unforeseen stoppages," and other types of conversational digression that ideally exist to ensure that Shandy's audience is kept as informed as possible (Müller 115, Sterne 33). The downside of this digressive strategy is that the reader is actually left more confused than they began, and may ultimately feel the need to backtrack over what they have read in order to untangle the disorder that they have found themselves immersed in. Once again, however, I must caution against this. For, if one attempts to hit 'pause' in order to understand what is going on, then really, they must rewind over a series of commas, semicolons, "Shandeian dashes," and any other feature of typographical media that the narrator has manipulated in the process of developing a single idea (Voogd 115). In doing so, they not only face the threat of losing themselves in the course of their backtracking, but they will also disrupt the chaotic progression that Sterne has intentionally established. Here, it appears that any attempt at obtaining an explanation is a fruitless, regressive endeavor, one that should be temporarily abandoned in the interest of accepting and appreciating

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