Sexuality/Textuality in Tristram Shandy

 Essay upon SexualityTextuality in Tristram Shandy

Rice University

Sexuality/Textuality in Tristram Shandy

Author(s): Dennis W. Allen

Reviewed work(s):

Source: Studies in British Literature, 1500-1900, Vol. twenty-five, No . 3, Restoration and Eighteenth Century (Summer, 1985), pp. 651-670

Published by: Rice School


Accessed: 16/12/2012 summer: 30

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SEL twenty-five (1985)

ISSN 0039-3657

Sexuality/Textuality in



Part narrative and part digression, part emotion and component satire, TristramShandyis something of a hybrid, as well as the work reveals the reader not only with a imaginary narrative but also with a great exploration of the medium of the narrative, vocabulary. The novel's presentation of various views of the nature of language commences as early as part 7 of volume 1 ) Yorick offers purchased an ordinary's certificate for the midwife that is to attend Mrs. Shandy at Tristram's beginning, and Tristram notes which the license has been recently rewritten by Didius the legal professional. Didius has added several phrases, much to his benefit, because he has " coax'd many of the old licensed matrons in the neighbourhood, to open all their faculties anew, in order to have this whim-wham of his injected. " you Clearly a satire around the machinations of lawyers, the passage also implicitly consists of a view of language which will insists for the power of words to manipulate reality. Not only does Didius's ploy disclose the midwives' sense that language controls reality, a newly authored document alters the range of their " real and corporeal possession" of their office, but Didius's control over dialect allows him to manipulate other folks, to condition reality pertaining to pecuniary gain. As handful of subjects inside the novel will be exempt from doubleentendre, it is not amazing that the electric power which Didius gains over others can be presented in sexual terms. The doc, as phallic whim-wham, is definitely inserted into the faculties of " qualified matrons" after some coaxing. Yet the sexual metaphor

Dennis Alien can be an Assistant Professor at West Va University. He is currently working away at a book within the relation of desire and narrative framework in the nineteenth-century

English new.

'Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Ed. Ian Watts (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 12. All quotations from the story refer to page numbers from this edition.

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the following is not gratuitous, but just one instance of your continual equation of language and sexuality which gets throughout the text message. It is contrary to the formula of terminology and phallic power that the novel's more in depth examination of the difficulties of terminology as a form of impotence is played out, and it is, finally, in genital terms that Tristram shows a view of language which in turn not only makes the text possible but which governs its form as well.

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