0396 | A Sentimental Journey | Laurence Sterne

0396 | A Sentimental Journey | Laurence Sterne

Context: Was spending a relaxing day at Byron Bay, New South Wales when I started reading this.


Apparently there’s a movement in literature (and probably elsewhere in the arts) called sentimentalism. I read a bit about it and didn’t really understand it. I read this and didn’t really understand it either. Sterne is not known for this particular book being much better known for his Tristram Shandy novel which I’ve not read. If this is anything to go by, I’m not looking forward to that much.

Written on his deathbed, the novelist has one last foray into Europe on the picaresque bandwagon. Having read Peregrine Pickle, I’ve been here before and felt no great longing to return.

Granted, this was a bit more polished with the humour more wry and less slapstick. But there’s only so much one can get up to on these adventures. And, as I’ve said more than once before, satire is more for your peers than posterity.

The best part of the novel was the very last line, made even more skillful by the fact that it was his last published work. He died less than a month after it was completed.


They order, said I, this matter better in France.


There is not a more perplexing affair in life to me, than to set about telling any one who I am, – for there is scarce any body I cannot give a better account of than myself; and I have often wished I could do it in a single word, – and have an end of it.  It was the only time and occasion in my life I could accomplish this to any purpose; – for Shakespeare lying upon the table, and recollecting I was in his books, I took up Hamlet, and turning immediately to the grave-diggers’ scene in the fifth act, I laid my finger upon Yorick, and advancing the book to the Count, with my finger all the way over the name, – Me voici! said I.


This might give the game away. If you want to see the last line, click show


0396 | A Sentimental Journey | Sterne | 35% | Mediocre

Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement | Style Read more about how I come up with my ratings

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