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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

Reading Experience Database UK Historical image of readers
 
 
 
 

Record Number: 32403


Reading Experience:

Evidence:

(1) 'I have read today ... some 10 pages of "Tristram Shandy" and am wondering whether I like it. It is certainly the maddest book ever written.... It gives you the impression of an escaped lunatic's conversation while chasing his hat on a windy May morning. Yet there are beautiful serious parts in it though of a sentimental kind, as I know from my father. Have you ever come across it?' (2) 'I was interested to hear that you liked Tristram Shandy.... Personally I have tried in vain to see the good points of it. The absolute disconnection or scrappiness, the abundant coarseness of an utterly vulgar, non-voluptuous sort and the general smoking-room atmosphere of the book were too much for me.'

Century:

1900-1945

Date:

25 Oct 1916

Country:

England

Time

n/a

Place:

Great Bookham
Surrey
'Gastons'

Type of Experience
(Reader):
 

silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Type of Experience
(Listener):
 

solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown


Reader / Listener / Reading Group:

Reader:

Clive Staples Lewis

Age:

Child (0-17)

Gender:

Male

Date of Birth:

29 Nov 1898

Socio-Economic Group:

Professional / academic / merchant / farmer

Occupation:

Student

Religion:

Church of England

Country of Origin:

Northern Ireland

Country of Experience:

England

Listeners present if any:
e.g family, servants, friends

n/a


Additional Comments:

n/a



Text Being Read:

Author:

Laurence Sterne

Title:

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

Genre:

Fiction, Metafiction, self-reflexive parody of a variety of literary genres

Form of Text:

Print: Book

Publication Details

n/a

Provenance

unknown


Source Information:

Record ID:

32403

Source:

Print

Author:

C. S. Lewis

Editor:

Walter Hooper

Title:

C. S. Lewis Collected Letters

Place of Publication:

London

Date of Publication:

2000

Vol:

1

Page:

241, 332

Additional Comments:

(1) From a letter to Arthur Greeves, 25 October 1916 (2) From a letter to the same, [4 August 1917]

Citation:

C. S. Lewis, Walter Hooper (ed.), C. S. Lewis Collected Letters, (London, 2000), 1, p. 241, 332, http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/reading/UK/record_details.php?id=32403, accessed: 15 July 2024


Additional Comments:

I have given the exact date on which Lewis read his ten pages, but it is clear that he kept on trying to appreciate this extraordinary work. By 1931 he had had some success: 'Glad to hear you are at "Tristram Shandy". What good company! Isn't Uncle Toby, seriously and morally, one of the loveliest characters ever created.' (Letter to Greeves, 10 January 1931, v.1, p.949) It is curious that he does not mention which editions he used; he cared greatly about good book production, and it matters more that usual where Sterne is concerned. Modern editions do not do justice to his insistence highly unusual typographical features, such as different fonts and font sizes, bilingual texts in which left and righthand pages do not agree - and a blank page for the reader to doodle on!

   
   
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