Write a note on Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne.
In Tristram Shandy(1759–1767), Sterne considers the limitations of novelistic Realism. The novel is a fictional memoir, and Tristram’s stated intention is to “do exact justice” to his own life and opinions.
Almost from the start, Tristram finds this task to be impossible, because he can’t help getting sidetracked or falling into digressions. Without these digressions, Sterne suggests, Tristram’s story would be incomplete; with them, it often appears chaotic. Thus, Sterne reveals both the costs and the benefits of conventional forms of narration, suggesting that the effect of Realism is created largely through omissions and distortions.
Yet if Sterne questions the idea of Realism, he also creates a vivid image of life’s complexity and absurdity. In its own very strange way, Tristram Shandy may be even more realistic than the work of either Richardson or Fielding. Sterne’s unusual approach to storytelling not only had an enormous impact on his contemporaries but also influenced the work of later writers from Italo Calvino to Kurt Vonnegut and David Foster Wallace.