Tristram Shandy and the Irish: An Ancestry of the ‘Odd’
Samuel Johnson’s famous dismissal of Sterne’s "Tristram Shandy" (“Nothing odd will do long. Tristram Shandy did not last.”) might well be one of the most short-sighted critical claims in literary history. In recent years, Sterne’s novel has been successfully adapted as a film and as a graphic novel and has been repeatedly cited as a major influence on Modernism and Postmodernism, a forerunner to the major metafictional texts of the Twentieth Century, and Calvino’s claim that "Tristram Shandy" is the “undoubted progenitor of all avant-garde novels of our century,” offers an indication of the value in which it is held among many experimental fiction writers. This paper will present a case that it is precisely Tristram Shandy’s ‘oddness’ that has ensured its place in an alternative novelistic tradition in Europe, a tradition that finds ample correspondence with the non-realist tradition in the history of the Irish novel, a tradition that has formal and philosophical dissonance at its centre.
Prospero. Rivista di letterature e culture straniere
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Neil Murphy, "Tristram Shandy and the Irish: An Ancestry of the ‘Odd’", in: Prospero. Rivista di letterature e culture straniere, XVIII (2013), Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2013, pp. 5-21