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LAURENCE STERNE (1713 - 1768)

Works: he wrote 'Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy' and Sentimental Journey through France and Italy'.

New tecniques: Laurence Sterne uses in writing his novels a partucular tecnique, which consists in adding old elements, like the picaresque form, to new ones, like the association of ideas and a new concept of time. The former was introduced by Cervantes but within a chronological sequence of hours and days. Instead Sterne considers time as a continuos flowing not divided into hours or days, but ruled by each individual consciousness. In other words he anticipated the future theory of Bergson called 'la durèe', according to which the mind has it own time and space different from the external one. Therefore what is important is no more a chronological sequence of adventures and events, but the psychology and feelings of the characters. . He seems not to give importance to what he is writing and lets his thoughts wander at large.

But what makes Sterne great is the subtle humour, the irony and the smile which emerge from his es. He gives the reader a picture of what man can be when he is free from conventions and can give vent to his instincts, sentiments and feelings.

Style: Sterne uses the first person narrator, through which he describes what the characters feel and think according to the working of their mind. That is why great attention was paid to what Sterne called the character's 'hobbyhorses' or idiosyncrasies, that are obsessions and passions, such as Mr. Shandy's interest in names or Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim's interest in strategy, logistics and fortifications. Its syntax, its physical organization, its graphological aspect are characterised by an extreme eccentricity: the length of chapters varies from a few lines to several es; the punctuation mostly consists of dashes; there are blank es, black es, asterisks and even drawings.

Time has a multeplicity of levels: the chronologicol time of events, the narrator's time and the reader's time. Another feature of the novel is the overt presence of the narratee who is often implicated by the narrator with his direct appeals such as "the reader","you . ".

Tristram Shandy: the work Tristram Shandy can be considered an anti-novel since the title, which read Life and Opinions and not Life and Adventures as the convention dictated. The novel, in fact, doesn't deal with the adventures of Tristram, but with his mental life and eveything which is narrated is distorted by Tristram's judgement and interpretation in spite of the fact that almost all the events belong to a time when the protagonist was not yet born.


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