A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy cover

A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy

Laurence Sterne (1713-1768)

1. 01 – “They order, said I, this matter better…”
2. 02 – Preface. In the Desobligeant.
3. 03 – “I perceived that something darken’d…”
4. 04 – “This, certainly, fair lady! said I…”
5. 05 – “Having, on first sight of the lady…”
6. 06 – “I never finished a twelve-guinea bargain…”
7. 07 – “As La Fleur went the whole tour…”
8. 08 – “Having settled all these little matters…”
9. 09 – “The words were scarce out…”
10. 10 – “When a man can contest…”
11. 11 – “I had counted twenty pulsations…”
12. 12 – “I had never heard the remark…”
13. 13 – “What the old French officer had…”
14. 14 – “When I got home to my hotel…”
15. 15 – “The bird in his cage…”
16. 16 – “Before I had got half-way…”
17. 17 – “I found no difficulty in…”
18. 18 – “And how do you find the French?”
19. 19 – “If a man knows the heart…”
20. 20 – “It was Sunday; and when La Fleur…”
21. 21 – “Now as the notary’s wife…”
22. 22 – “The man who either disdains…”
23. 23 – “I never felt what the distress…”
24. 24 – “There was nothing from which…”
25. 25 – “When you have gained the top…”

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After the bizarre textual antics of “Tristram Shandy”, this book would seem to require a literary health warning. Sure enough, it opens in mid-conversation upon a subject never explained; meanders after a fashion through a hundred pages, then fizzles out in mid-sentence – so, a plotless novel lacking a beginning, a middle or an end. Let us say: an exercise in the infinitely comic.“There is not a secret so aiding to the progress of sociality, as to get master of this short hand, and to be quick in rendering the several turns of looks and limbs with all their inflections and delineations, into plain words.”Sterne calls his fine sensitivity to body language (as we now term it) “translation”. Much of the pleasure to be had from this wonderfully engaging book comes from his unmatched ability to extract random details from the chaos of experience to create comic turns imbued with Feeling. His Parson Yorick is the Sentimental Traveller: certainly a Man of Feeling, but one in whom “Nature has so wove her web of kindness, that some threads of love and desire are entangled with the piece…”