Cambridge University Library


Keeping Time

Laurence Sterne, 1713-1768. The life and opinions of Tristram Shandy, gentleman. Volume Three. London: R. & J. Dodsley, 1761.

Literary Time

Though Tristram's conception takes place in Volume One (and is intimately connected with the winding of a clock), he is not actually born until the work's third volume, so constantly does the expression of his opinions intrude upon the narrative of his life. For Sterne as for John Locke in his Essay Upon Human Understanding (1690), people's apprehension of time is subjective; as Sterne expresses it, 'the idea of duration ... is got merely from the train and succession of our ideas, - and is the true scholastick pendulum'.