Narrative, Nature, and the ‘Cock’ and ‘Bull’ Story: The Lockean Tristram Shandy and the Modern Novel

Narrative, Nature, and the ‘Cock’ and ‘Bull’ Story: The Lockean Tristram Shandy and the Modern Novel by Amanda Tiller

Laurence Sterne’s Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1760) is one of the first English novels to stray from such classical literary guidelines as those outlined in Aristotle’s profoundly influential Poetics which, until this time, have traditionally governed the style of poetic and dramatic, but also prose compositions. With reference to John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding, this paper will explore how this deviation leads Tristram, in the series of events stemming from his birth, to a more precise imitation of nature than, perhaps, adherence to these guidelines could have procured.

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