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'Alas, poor Yorick!': Laurence Sterne's "A Sentimental Journey" after 250 years'

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Rachel E. Holmes.

Eighteenth-century clergyman Laurence Sterne created an immense sensation in London, 1760 with the publication of what proved to be the first instalment of his comic novel ‘The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman’. Whilst readers continued to be intrigued, shocked, and baffled by this idiosyncratic work throughout the 1760s, Sterne’s second novel, ‘A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy’ (1768), exerted an even wider, global impact. It capitalised on the trend for sentimental fiction and for travel narratives, but it is also rich with Sterne’s characteristic, subtly erotic humour. 2018 sees the 250-anniversary of ‘A Sentimental Journey’s’ publication, and of its author’s death just a month later. This talk will consider what made this novel so appealing, and the ‘afterlife’ it experienced in commentary, imitation, and image – an afterlife closely entwined with the myth of its creator, whom readers likened to the ‘Yorick’ who narrates ‘A Sentimental Journey’.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Humanities Society talks series.

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