Laurence Sterne - A Sentimental Journey
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It is a short work, of about 100+ pages, but not all that easy to read. I would recommend an annotated edition, and some literary criticism prior to or following the reading of A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy.
Reading The life and opinions of Tristram Shandy, gentleman first, is preferred, as various characters re-appear, and there are references to the previous work.
Finished reading: 2 December 2013
Within the genre of travelogues, two approaches can be distinguished. There are those authors who describe fore-mostly the places, and the habits of the people they visit, from an anthropological point of view, and there are those who describe the people they meet on their travels from a more humanistic point of view, as equals, so to speak. An example of the first type of travelogue would be Daniel Defoe's A tour through the whole island of Great Britain, which was published in 1724. Laurence Sterne's fictional A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy was published a few decades later in 1768. By this time, travel to the continent had become fashionable.
In Sterne's A sentimental journey, his alter ego Yorick, which contemporary readers would know as a clergyman, travels to Paris, supposedly on his way to Italy. However, the story develops very slowly, and for the larger part the story is set in the environs of Paris, indicated but scantily.
If the book is humourous or witty, it is not clear in which way. Supposedly, various sketches or situation would be humourous to contemporaries of Sterne but the humour is lost on contemporary readers. In fact, A sentimental journey seems a rather boring little book, and all pleasure to be had from it can only be found by studying the introduction carefully which explains where to look for it. Even then, the notes in the annotated Penguin edition merely clarified what should already be clear to the educated reader, while leaving many possible clues unexplained.
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