Monday, November 14, 2011

Cara Leo's Required Blog Post

For this section of Tristram Shandy, we are presented with the concept of love. From the relationship between Uncle Toby and the widow, how does Uncle Toby, the widow, and Tristram characterize love? Why are the interactions between the widow and Uncle Toby called "attacks"? What does this say about love? What do you think Sterne felt of love and feelings?

Since we have read many novels now that deal with the concept of love, how is love represented similarly or differently from other works we have read?


  1. "That the first moment Widow Wadman saw him, she felt something stirring within her in his favour- Something!- something. Something perhaps more than friendship- less than love- something- no matter what- " (494)

    I think this quite kind of shows what Tristram thinks about love. It's very "muddy." Emotions are muddy. There is never a way to tell if love is truly just love.
    He finds love "agitating" "bewitching" "confounded" "devilish affairs of life- the most" "extravagant" "futilitous" ... and "misgiving."
    He associates love with something evil, which I find interesting.
    In other novels like Evelina and Pamela, love was something honorable...

  2. Tristram in my opinion is definitely rough on love, as Christina points out the words that he attributes to love are not really positive. That being said isn't everything that he said true about love though? I mean I believe if the one you love cannot get under your skin then you don't truly love them. I am sure that we all have someone that we love who agitates the heck out of us, but that doesn't mean that there are ill feelings towards that person. I think here Tristram (Sterne) is saying that love isn't just all fuzzy feelings and happy times but it can also be nerve racking and frustrating but that is what makes it special. If there was no downsides to being in love how would we appreciate the good parts.

  3. I feel like the Widow and Toby call advances in love "attacks" for different reasons. The widow is attacking Toby because she is trying to force feelings on him. Toby doesn't understand love at all. He thinks only in terms of military language, so I think, for him, "attack" is the only word in his vocabulary that can accurately describe what he wants to do. I think that Sterne might be trying to point out how ambiguous love is, because it can make sense to different people in different ways. Although Toby's language is violent, I don't think his intentions are. Also, this novel is very different then others about love. Characters are openly talking about sex, and plan on having sex with one another. This is very different than every other novel we have read, where women try to keep their virtue in tact.

  4. Sterne describes how love "shews the weakness and imbecility of human reason" (493). I believe that this weakness and imbecility is both demonstrated by the enamored and the pursued who eventually falls for the bait. The widow is described as setting up attacks (attacks that seem quite trivial and comical), and throughout Volume VIII, love is equated to war. The corporal describes how love "is exactly like war" (520) in that a soldier may escape a wound for three weeks and then one day suddenly be shot down. That is love. It is Love for Sterne. A man may be able to resist its advances, but without any forewarning, a feeling is kindled, and love strikes. I like Nathan's comment about how the characters are openly talking about copulation. The widow has been forced to endure cold december nights without any warmth. She wants sex. She wants Toby. However, I wonder if Sterne is criticizing Love or if he is criticizing Lust? Do you think there is a difference between Love and Lust for him or are they just lumped together?

  5. Certainly love is preceded by lust, in the individual experience but also in the long narrative of humanity. Maybe love is the product of an enlightened mind 's appreciation or maybe it is just lust dressed up, but lust is certainly involved.

    I try to keep in mind Stern's job as a clergyman, though KW has indicated that it was more of a job for him than a devotion. Even if he didn't see lust as evil in a biblical sense, certainly sex and thoughts of sex were attended by much more anxieties than they are for us today (and they may seem considerable to us). We have, relatively, incredibly reliable birth control, we have a greater degree of gender equality, we have protection against STD's we are much more distant from the religious concerns of sex.

    Though taboo, sex is such a common thing and such a serious concern that one could almost use it as a motif to understand social changes through history. The psychological and technological tools with which we can approach sex could be seen as sources of some significant differences between us and the people of this novel.

  6. We talked about this in class, but I think that lust and desire play a huge part in "love." I say love with quotations because it's easy to confuse feelings of love with actual love because of lust and physical desire.

    I think it's interesting that Sterne wrote a novel such as this after being raised in a conservative, religious family. On the other side of that, like with what Jesse was getting into, sex and anything having to do with desire, love, sexuality, etc. was so hushed up at the time. Even today, sex and it's familial siblings are viewed as taboo topics. But, why? Sex, as an act, is probably the most natural human interaction there is. As they say, all the kids are doing it. Because without it, we would cease to exist.

    Why has it not become okay to talk about sex? What is so taboo about it? Are we embarrassed by it, nervous about it, afraid of it, or is it something that will continually to be an uncomfortable subject because of its everlasting stigma?

    (sorry to get off on a tangent here)