Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tristram Shandy Vs.......Anything

My question is a pretty simple one, so I'll get to it right away and then try and explain the reasoning behind my asking it - Is it fair, or better yet, even possible, to compare Tristram Shandy (the novel, not the character) to any of the other works we've gone through this semester?

Now obviously, you could answer at surface level that yes, of course you can compare any two novels...if you try hard enough. But I'm asking in a more in depth sense, with all the, for lack of a better term, wackiness, that ensues in Tristram Shandy, is it really comparable to any of the far more subdued novels we've read so far?

For me, I can assert with certainty that nothing else we've read falls under quite the same sphere as does TS. No other novels have had characters that are so difficult to keep up with (that is to say, to understand exactly what's going on with them at all times). Nor do any of the other novels offer such complicated and indirect language in the way they're presented, making it even more difficult, for me atleast, to draw comparisons.

I guess a good secondary question to this would be, do you find the fact that we're only reading selections from the book rather than the entire book itself, to provide difficulty in grasping the whole thing? I've considered several times the possibility that may be a larger aspect to my trouble with the novel than I originally thought.

I'll conclude by saying if there were any other works we've covered so far that I'd even attempt to try and draw comparisons to, it'd be Castle of Otranto. But I'll leave that for anyone else that wants to answer.


  1. I think what really separates Tristram Shandy from the other novels that we've read this semester is the comic element of the story. Thus far, the tone of the works we've all read has been very serious and, in some cases, quite dreary. Tristram Shandy, however, seems to mark the beginning of a new kind of literature. To me, this is one of the earliest forms of social commentary. I try really hard not to drag poor Jane Austen into everything, but the overall tone of the book, especially the way in which the characters are presented, is very reminiscent of the ironic way that she presented her social sphere to the reader.

    Of course, what you said about the "wackiness" of the story is true as well. Upon even a cursory read, it is clear that this is different from the other books merely because comedy is the main element present within the story.

    I do think you're right, though, in saying that this is the most similar to The Castle of Otranto. They are both exceedingly strange, and the characters simply accept that strangeness as normality. Perhaps these books are the beginning of absurdism. Or the harbingers of it, at least.

  2. For me one of the main things that really seperates Tishram SHnady from the other novels is the odd depth of the novel with its interpretive details. It is a novel that I think is very dragged on in detial but at the same time holds so much meaning and depth. In many cases I wasn't able to make sense of what was being described, for example the deep intellecutual interpretations on love.

    Also in all honesty I don't think reading teh entire book would have helped with my understanding of the novel rather than reading certain parts of the book. It was just a very confusing and scattered book in terms of character development and very slow in story progression that either way for me it would ahve been very challenging.