Type of paper:
Literature, Books, Character, Experience, Digression, Adventure
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What purpose does the digression serve in Tristram Shandy? What does it give us, as readers, that a more straightforward narrative would not?
Tristam Shandy is an intriguing book which relies quite intensely on the maxim of recollection and digression. Laurence Sterne is very descriptive in the way he comes out with his main character’s adventures and digressions which along the way tend to take up a portent of fantastic proportions.
Reading the book is an intense experience as we have to digest some pretty unpalatable experiences.
The way Sterne shapes his monologue is extremely involving and interesting as the exploits of Shandy are rather outrageous in every sense of the word.
We are made to feel part and parcel of Shandy’s experiences, be it positive or negative ones which take us to another level of author-reader engagement. The way digression is portrayed shows us that Shandy is perhaps a lazy character but he is also quite a likeable rogue. In a way Shandy is a forerunner of some Dickens characters such as Mrs Sparsit in Hard Times and The Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist.
Shandy’s descriptions of his amorous adventures and associations are hilarious and at times quite intense which enable us to enjoy some rather licentious experiences. This is what Sterne brings to proceedings, a visceral nakedness which is lacking in other novels that are much more straightforward. It is a masterpiece of populism and a good experience in socialism. We warm to the character of Shandy immediately and this is the main strength of the novel especially in the way which digression is portrayed.
Sterne L; Tristam Shandy Project Gutenberg 1997
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