The black pages

Dublin Core

Title

The black pages

Subject

The life and opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

Description

Tristram Shandy’s unusual approach to story-telling provides one reason why many readers have found it to be so baffling, and so engaging. This impression is enhanced by the book’s equally idiosyncratic typography and visual layout. The squiggly lines by which Tristram displays his haphazard approach to storytelling as ‘digressive’ and ‘progressive too, — and at the same time’ are one among many features in a book whose short and long chapters, gothic script, missing pages and eccentric punctuation repeatedly challenge not just how a novel’s elements should be organised, but how they should appear on the page. Sterne’s typography is particularly distinctive: he liberally sprinkles dashes of varying lengths, asterisks, and other symbols across his text. These came to be identifiable as ‘his’ – one commentator even called him ‘that dashite Sterne’ – and inspired countless imitations. Other visual features of Tristram Shandy are equally famous: the reader is confronted with two black pages that announce the death of parson Yorick in volume 1, with a dramatic gravitas clinched by way of allusion to Shakespeare. Yorick nevertheless goes on to play an important role in Tristram Shandy; Sterne even reused the character as the narrator of A sentimental journey, and adopted his pseudonym to publish two volumes of his own Sermons in 1760.

Creator

Laurence Sterne

Source

University of Cambridge

Date

1713-1768

Contributor

Ankit Mehta

Rights

University of Cambridge

Relation

Laurence Sterne

Language

English

Type

Text

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Written, book

Files

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Citation

Laurence Sterne, “The black pages,” Enlightenmens, accessed February 6, 2023, http://enlightenmens.lmc.gatech.edu/items/show/632.

Output Formats