Wednesday 25 January 2012

A Sentimental Journey by Laurence Sterne

Publisher: Penguin Classics
Published: first: 1768 - Penguin: 26th March 2002
Pages: 160
Synopsis (Goodreads): 
A Sentimental JourneyA Sentimental Journey is a novel without a plot, a journey without a destination. It records the adventures of the amiable Parson Yorick, as he sets off on his travels through France and Italy, relishing his encounters with all manner of men and women-particularly the pretty ones. Sterne's tale rapidly moves away from the narrative of travel to become a series of dramatic sketches, ironic incidents, philosophical musings, reminiscences, and anecdotes; sharp wit is mixed with gaiety, irony with tender feeling. With A Sentimental Journey, as well as his masterpiece, Tristram Shandy, Sterne forged a truly original style and established himself as the first of the stream-of-consciousness writers. 
This new Penguin Classics edition features an introduction that discusses the novel in relation to Sterne's other writing and places it within the context of "sentimental" literature. Also included are a chronology, suggestions for further reading, and full explanatory notes.

First off, I feel I should warn that this is not for everyone - even avid readers of eighteenth century literature.

Another book for university - this one for a module entitled 'Gender and Eighteenth Century Fiction', so I was already aware of the ... difficulties that come with reading from this period. But wow! This book has no real plot, no direction, which is probably Sterne's point with his style of writing: the stream of consciousness. This, not to mention the complex and extremely detailed language, makes this book difficult to understand and interpret. And though it is definitely not my style of narrative, I can understand the appeal to this book; to have a travel book that focuses on the people rather than the places, the detail behind emotions and interactions. If only it was written in more understandable language! Or at least chronologically!

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