Tristram Shandy

Travel Writing and Identity in Tristram Shandy College

Travel Writing and Identity in Tristram Shandy

In The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne employs unconventional structure and non-linearity to disorient his readers. Sterne projects himself through the lens of Tristram Shandy, and conveys his ‘conversation’ with readers through parody and satire. In keeping with his disorienting style, Sterne disrupts the patterns that defined the narrative in the first six volumes, and changes course significantly into a lengthy digression; volume seven, which is an ironic attempt at travel writing. Volume Seven details Tristram’s ‘Escape from Death’ as he adventures through Europe, including his smaller digressions, like the story of the two lovers, Amandus and Amanda. Tristram makes allusions to fictitious stories while traveling to the sites of their occurrences, such as the tomb of the lovers, only to sadly realize that the place does not exist. His attempt at situating himself as a traveller in a literary context proves to be a humorous failure, much like his broader failure in situating his identity in the novel. The story of Amandus and Amanda’s tragic, but joyous relationship translates to Sterne’s recurring theme of dualities. Sterne seems to advocate sensuality for...

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