jueves, 28 de enero de 2016

A Few Chapters on The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentlemen by Laurence Sterne

Chapter One – The Plot

Well, gentlefolk, at least that’s out of the way!

Chapter Two – The Characters

Young Tristram Shandy, so unfortunately misnamed, is so young he’s still in the womb. He doesn’t even condescend to appear until volume three! This means he writes a bagful of pages before he even has access to paper, pen and inkhorn. But there is his good father and perhaps better mother, who at the outset suffer the ignominy of being depicted clock-winding.  There’s Uncle Toby, who has a passion for fortifications. In fact, verily indeed, whatever compass point provides the direction for whatever conversation, up will pop Uncle Toby and let off about mullions, parapets and ´scarpments. And don’t expect any assistance with vocabulary! Toby’s servant Trim and a forgetful maid called Susannah complete the cast. But there are others everywhere walking in and out of the tale, a farce acted through the momentary opening of doors, a trip to France and an occasional visit to the parlour for a pipe or a snifter.

Chapter Three – The Style

There will be no chapter three. The greatest of all philosophers, the very Slawkenbergius, assures us that the inclusion of third chapters inevitably lowers to tone of a tome, so these notes will have no chapter three, just to repeat what was said earlier. Thus, as a result of this pontification that we may not cross, this particular chapter three does not exist and is hereby deferred until chapter LXVIII of volume six.

Chapter Four – Noses

We all have one, we are told. Restating this perhaps more precisely, so that the good Doctor Hume might not be tempted to issue his objections, we all have the potential to possess one. But nose possessors beware! Be they long and judgmentally wagging, heavy and lewd or retroussé and apologetic, no nose is safe when the infant must be drawn forth into the world with newfangled assistance such as metal forceps.  Imagine the relative frailty of the protrusion compared to the grip of metal tongs! And if the child be a male, let that be the end of it! Or perhaps the end off it…

Chapter Five – The Moral

Morals were always questionable. And since there is nothing left to say on the matter, let’s let chapter five be the same as chapter four. Except let us also include reference to nonsense, absurdity, Monty Python, Cervantes, Rabelais and perhaps anyone else who cares to call in. Including the young Tristram Shandy, gentlemen, the poor unfortunate lad whose memoir this reported ‘novel’ claims to be. Hilarity also must look in to confirm the status of masterpiece, a status obviously to be achieved the moment the redoubtable author, one Laurence Sterne, placed his pen upon paper in Shandy’s name. And let it also be said, that, despite its two and a half centuries of age, the memoir may sound surprisingly modern, if the word Pythonesque be validly employed. Not all readers might be of the opinion, but in the end, what does it matter?

Chapter Six – The End and The Plot Again

So that’s it! The end. Please have a look at my website.

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