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A book is a literary compass that has the potential to direct our thoughts and actions:

"Everything we read stimulates our mind to think, and what we think determines what we desire, and desires are the seedbed of our actions. Given this iron law of human nature--from reading to thinking, to desiring, to acting--we are shaping our destiny by the ideas we choose to have enter our minds through print." - Fr. John Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan

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"Every soul that uplifts itself uplifts the world." --Elisabeth Leseur

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Tristram Shandy the first Blogger?

Today in 1760 the first two volumes of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy were published. I read it three years ago and remember smiling through much of it. Here are the notes I wrote to myself at the time I finished it:
What a pleasant book. Tristram Shandy takes its own sweet time to be told, really goes nowhere, but manages to be engaging in spite of itself. I love the narrator's personality and the wonderful depictions of Uncle Toby and Trim. Sterne reminds me somewhat of Cervantes and somewhat of Dickens. It is the first book I have read (and maybe it is the only one of its kind) where the majority of the book--the vast majority--is digression. The only section I disliked was the travelogue section in the second half, but that led to one of my favorite sections, the courting of Mrs. Wadman. I thoroughly enjoyed Tristram Shandy and look forward to reading it again.
From my commonplace book, here is one of my favorite quotes from the novel, that could also stand as a sort of raison d'etre to bloggers everywhere:
I have undertaken, you see, to write not only my life, but my opinions also; hoping and expecting that your knowledge of my character, and of what kind of mortal I am, by the one, would give you a better relish for the other: As you proceed further with me, the slight acquaintance which is now beginning betwixt us, will grow into familiarity; and that, unless one of us is in fault, will terminate in friendship.
When you think about it, blogging is very similar to what Tristram Shandy does. He tries telling us his life story, just as we try to tell our stories, usually focused on a particular topic or theme. But much of the enjoyment and enlightenment I derive from blogs that I read come from a person's digressions and ramblings. That's where a blogger's true character is revealed. And through that revelation, we "grow into familiarity" which, for some of us, leads to a kind of friendship.

Looking at my reading log, I can't believe it's been three years since I read Tristram Shandy. I see that there is a film adaptation out now on DVD. I'd love to hear a review from someone who's seen it.

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posted by Nick Senger at 5:37 AM

Comments on "Tristram Shandy the first Blogger?"


Blogger jenclair said ... (Wednesday, March 28, 2007 8:22:00 PM) : 

This is one of the books I've always read about, but never read. Thanks for the review; you've really aroused my interest.


Blogger Nick Senger said ... (Thursday, March 29, 2007 5:40:00 AM) : 

jenclair: Thanks for the kind words.


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