PRINT May 1989


John Baldessari's Tristram Shandy

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne. Reissue of the 18th-century novel in a limited edition of 400, illustrated by John Baldessari. San Francisco: Arion Press, 1988, 3 vols., 620 pages, 39 double-page photocollages.

DISCOMBOBULATED FROM THE MOMENT of his conception, Tristram Shandy, the unfortunate hero of Laurence Sterne’s 18th-century epic, assays his “Life and Opinions” through a multiplicitous discourse that collapses the conventional discretions of past and present, fiction and real life, and experience and memory. Through its narrator’s constant interruptions, digressions, and reversals, Sterne expresses his own sense of the random, multifarious, and fragmentary quality of experience. Contributing to the general profusion of the book is Sterne’s deliberate violation of typographic and signature conventions through strangely placed italics,

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