A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy

Controlling Exchange: Money in A Sentimental Journey

In A Sentimental Journey, Laurence Sterne places a peculiar emphasis on the exchange of money. An intentional stress on this topic is clear in the monetary terms found throughout the text, especially as metaphors in unexpected places. The process of buying and selling provides opportunities for social interaction between men and women. Characters of both sexes capitalize on this de-sexualized setting to speak freely to each other. For Yorick, these interactions exist in a realm outside of commerce. It seems that the exchange, money aside, is the crucial aspect for him in these moments. Yorick is searching for simple human interaction. He desperately wants to believe that sentiment, or at least something emotional and romantic, drives human action. But his own narration betrays his true vision of the world. Everything is commerce, including human beings themselves.

Sterne litters Yorick's narration with well-disguised reminders of the world of commerce lurking behind any kind of exchange. Monetary terms are found referring to anything but money. For example, Yorick will say "cost the honest fellow a heartache," (98) or "cost me infinite trouble to make anything of it" (126). Moments like these serve to...

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