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A forerunner of psychological fiction that is filled with unprecedented experimental narrative devices, Sterne's topsy-turvy novel was both celebrated and vilified when first published. Originally released in nine separate volumes, it is in effect an exercise about the difficulties of writing. Impossible to categorize, it remains a beguiling milestone in the history of literature.
'Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men. A time will come - but I must not and cannot think!' H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was a reclusive scribbler of horror stories for the American pulp magazines that specialized in Gothic and science fiction in the interwar years. He often published in Weird Tales and has since become the key figure in the slippery genre of 'weird fiction'. Lovecraft developed an extraordinary vision of feeble men driven to the edge of sanity by glimpses of malign beings that have survived from human prehistory or by malevolent extra-terrestrial visitations. The ornate language of his stories builds towards grotesque moments of revelation, quite unlike any other writer. This new selection brings together nine of his classic tales, focusing on the 'Cthulhu Mythos', a cycle of stories that develops the mythology of the Old Ones, the monstrous creatures who predate human life on earth. It includes the Introduction from Lovecraft's critical essay, 'Supernatural Horror in Literature', in which he gave his own important definition of 'weird fiction'. In a fascinating contextual introduction, Roger Luckhurst gives Lovecraft the attention he deserves as a writer who used pulp fiction to explore a remarkable philosophy that shockingly dethrones the mastery of man.
Tristram Shandy provoked a literary sensation when it first appeared in a series of installments between 1759 and 1767. The ribald, high-spirited book prompted Diderot to hail Sterne as 'the English Rabelais.' An ingeniously structured novel (about writing a novel) that fascinates like a verbal game of chess, Tristram Shandy is both a joyful celebration of the infinite possibilities of the art of fiction and a wry demonstration of its limitations. Many view this picaresque masterpiece as the precursor of the modern novel. A Sentimental Journey, which came out in 1768, begins as a travelogue. Yet it ends as a treasury of portraits, sketches, and philosophical musings, for as Virginia Woolf observed: 'A Sentimental Journey, for all its levity and wit, is based upon something fundamentally philosophic--the philosophy of pleasure.'
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (or, more briefly, Tristram Shandy) is a novel by Laurence Sterne, published between 1759-1767. Sterne promises the "life and opinions" of his protagonist. Yet halfway through the fourth volume of nine, we are still in the first day of the hero's life thanks to marvelous digressions and what the narrator calls "unforeseen stoppages"-detailing the quirky habits of his eccentric family members and their friends. This broken narrative is unified by Sterne's comic touch, which shimmers in this thoroughly entertaining novel that harks back to Don Quixote and foreshadows Ulysses. But it is one of the central jokes of the novel that he cannot explain anything simply, that he must make explanatory diversions to add context and colour to his tale.
Thomas Keymer's introduction to this casebook examines the historical context and controversial reception of Tristram Shandy, and connects the essays selected for inclusion to the diverse traditions of Sterne Criticism.
This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press’s mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1982.