Books 2010

Books 2009

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Wednesday, 20 August 2008


I had never heard of Laurence Sterne and "they order this matter better in France" before.
I'll try to get hold of the book and read it as it appears to be a nice book to bring along for a travel too. In doing so, I am glad I'll get finally a chance to understand perfectly the word "sentimental" then as I have a real problem at grasping its effective meaning - when you say that you don't like sentimentality, I don't know what you mean exactly!
I can recall absolutely no French author involved in English literary life; many have lived in England (mainly London) to escape hardship/war/taxes(!) but I am not sure they really got involved in local literary circles.

There's a lot about Sterne in Adam Thirlwell's "Miss Herbert". There he quotes Craig Raine on "Sentimental Journey": "this novel is all about knowing which girl to pick up" (see your title and the book's first line..) Thirlwell goes on, "It was an unambiguous novel about ambiguity - a story of sexual tourism where the narrator pretended that it was a story about morality. All the joy of the writing was in this disjunction - between what seemed important, and what was actually important." This may partly explain why Sterne was lionised in France?

Never read Tristram Shandy? Oh please do! and yes I am back and cannot resist your blandishments so am off to write something right now.

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  • Nothing is of greater consolation to the author of a novel than the disovery of readings he had not conceived but which are then prompted by his readers. (Umberto Eco, Reflections on The Name of the Rose)
  • ... relatively few persons in London ... can afford the luxury of one or more servants. No fewer than 3,700,000 have no servants at all, and of the half million that have servants 227,000 have only one. (The Times, 6 June 1895)
  • Standing among savage scenery, the hotel offers stupendous revelations. There is a French widow in every bedroom, affording delightful prospects. (Tyrolean inn brochure, according to Gerard Hoffnung)
  • (A doctor is at an elderly relative's deathbed) "The old sawbones, eh?" he bellowed ... "Just in the nick, perhaps. Haul the old girl back by the short hairs, if you ask me. Devilish smart at his work ... Always take a fence with more confidence when I know he's out with us."
  • Too often, when a man of Monty Godkin's mental powers is plunged in thought, nothing happens at all. The machinery just whirs for a while, and that is the end of it. (P G Wodehouse, Heavy Weather)
  • ...the breed that take their pleasures as Saint Laurence took his grid (Kipling, The Five nations)

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