Tristram Shandy

Laurence Sterne
Illustrations by Tom Phillips
Preface by Patrick Wildgust
Editorial material by Melvyn New
Limited to 750 hand-numbered copies
Publisher: Folio Society
Hardcover: 512 pages
Hardback with Commentary and Slipcase

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collage, pencil, watercolour

collage, watercolour

collage, pencil, watercolour

collage, pencil, watercolour

Tristram Shandy is a book that defies classification, as Sterne drew on, and even plagiarised his literary heroes – Montaigne, Rabelais, Burton, Swift and Cervantes – to create something uniquely his own. It sets out as an attempt by its title character to give a meaningful account of his life, and his efforts to overcome its inauspicious beginnings – but Tristram finds himself constantly thwarted by the irrepressible urge to make digressions.

Everything about Tristram Shandy is unusual: its stream-of-consciousness, conversational style; its bizarre chronology, with sentences that start in one volume and are completed in another, and the whole tale ending several years before Tristram has even been born; its encyclopaedic range, from moments of high sentiment to the bawdy humour of its laugh-out-loud set-pieces.

Sterne was determined that Tristram Shandy would give his readers a visual experience unlike any other book, packing it with eye-catching features that pushed the boundaries of printing: blacked-out pages to lament the death of Parson Yorick; a blank area for readers to draw their own vision of the amorous Widow Wadman; wiggling lines to represent the meandering progress of the story or the dramatic flourish of a character's stick; missing chapters that throw out the page-numbering; and a text littered with asterisks and an astonishing variety of dashes. All these are faithfully reproduced in this new limited edition.

In addition to the ten fabulous frontispieces – one for the book itself and one for each of the nine original volumes, Tom Phillips has also created complementary binding designs for each element. These incorporate printed cloth and gold blocking on the limited edition, blind blocking mirrored on the front and back of the commentary and dark red metallic foil blocking on one side of the slipcase.

When it came to manufacturing the first edition of Tristram Shandy, Sterne was determined that it would ‘go perfect into the world’ and we are certain that collectors will agree that this new and very special limited edition of one of the most influential books in the English language is as perfect as it is possible to achieve.

 Text excerpted from the website of The Folio Society