Max Byrd’s lucidly written and compelling volume aims to provide a scholarly introduction to one of the most puzzling pieces of eighteenth-century literature, and a stimulus to critical thought and discussion. Laurence Sterne – an eccentric and largely unsuccessful clergyman - was forty-six when he sat down in January of 1759 to being his literary masterpiece. Aside from his sermons, only two of which had ever been published, Sterne had little more to do with the literary life than any other respectable provincial clergyman. His explosion into the history of English literature occurred not only without preparation, but also without apparent aptitude.
Tristram Shandy, first published in 1985, sketches Sterne’s life and literary antecedents, closely analysing key passages of his great satire and concluding with the critical history and bibliography. It will thus be of use to all students of eighteenth-century English literature.