Monday, March 06, 2006

Our Shillings Take Care of Themselves

It occurred to me, upon posting the previous missive, that one might actually want to invest cold, hard cash in a copy of Tristram Shandy. You yourself may wish to purchase the very edition in my possession, which offers both extensive footnotes as well as numerous essays dating from the Eighteenth Century to the Twentieth (in one of which, for example, Edmund Burke comments that “the faults of an original work are always pardoned; and it is not surprizing, that at a time, when a tame imitation makes almost the whole merit of so many books, so happy an attempt at novelty should have been so well received,” an indictment that could just as easily concern contemporary cinema). Or perhaps you’re the cheap paperback type, in no need of annotations,—more power to you, if so, unheedful of others’ erudition as you may be. On the other (presumably third) hand, your pecuniary situation may permit you to invest your shillings in a remarkably pricy hardbound edition of uncertain merit. And for the visually-oriented among you, a graphically illustrated version of the tale may catch your fancy.

I have to admit a preference for a combiantion of the aforementioned Norton Critical Edition, along with one of the equally aforementioned online versions, which gives the quite sparse layout of the original volumes, as dictated by Sterne himself. One thus has the opprtunity to lounge about comfortably with one’s paperback, making only periodic treks to the computer to see what fiddling Sterne may have engaged in with the words on the page.


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