‘Sterne and Kundera: The Novel of Variations and the “noisy foolishness of human certainty”’

Parnell, Tim. 1996. ‘Sterne and Kundera: The Novel of Variations and the “noisy foolishness of human certainty”’. In: David Pierce and Peter de Voogd, eds. Laurence Sterne in Modernism and Postmodernism. Brill | Rodopi, pp. 147-156. ISBN 978-9042000025 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy is the most wayward and in some respects the most powerful critique of Locke's theory of knowledge, while his interest in the gulf between biological and clock time makes him a contemporary of Proust and Bergson. In obscuring the fine line between autobiography and fiction, Sterne belongs to the generation of modern writers that includes Joyce and Nabokov. In his deliberate refusal to construct a 'goahead plot' Sterne commends himself to contemporary narratologists. In his concern with personal identity, he anticipates the Derridean stress on 'trace'. In his promiscuous borrowings from past authors, he offers himself as a suitably perverse model for the school of postmodern theory. In his attention to matters of typography and to a visual language, he provides a running commentary on almost every aspect of the relationship between word and image. Himself influenced by Rabelais, Montaigne, Cervantes and Burton, Sterne has influenced writers as diverse as Cabrera Infante, Kundera, Márquez, Rushdie and Beckett. And James Joyce. These influences are traced here by sixteen scholars from Europe and the USA, proof if any were needed that Laurence Sterne today is as rewardingly puzzling as he was in his own century.

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Book Section

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English and Comparative Literature



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Date Deposited:

08 Sep 2015 15:34

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2017 09:50



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