Philosophy and Literature 36 (2):391-403 (2012)

At the end of the sixth volume of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne’s irremediably digressive narrator looks back over the story he has told so far. He presents to the reader five horizontal lines drawn on the page, each of which is the line taken by the narrative in one of the preceding five volumes of the novel.1 Each of the lines is interrupted at intervals by a series of fantastical loops and squiggles, darting forward or back for anticipations and flashbacks, dented by brief subplots, or ballooning outward in wild-goose chases, extended commentaries, and stories within stories. He claims his storytelling is improving: while his distraction in the first volume “led us a vagary some.
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DOI 10.1353/phl.2012.0028
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