Readers

Quote Context Text/Genre/References
I.i à  I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me. — Believe me, good folks, this is not so inconsiderable a thing as many of you may think it ; — you have all, I dare say, heard of the animal spirits, as how they are transfused from father to son, &c. &c.– and a great deal to that purpose : — Well, you may take my word, that nine parts in ten of a man’s sense or his nonsense, his successes and miscarriages in this world depend upon their motions and activity, and the different tracks and trains you put them into ; so that when they are once set a-going, whether right or wrong, ’tis not a halfpenny matter,—

Readers in Tristram Shandy mutatate and vary depending on the narrator’s self-serving interest. Sometimes readers are women, sometimes men, sometimes they are Christian, or romance readers, or travel-narrative aficionados. What they always seem to be, however, is eager and impatient. Shandy implies that we’ve already imagined most of the story in our minds, and sometimes plays with the possibility of letting us guide the narrative, but then immediately pulls it away from us.
I.iv à I KNOW there are readers in the world, as well as many other good people in it, who are no readers at all, — who find themselves ill at ease, unless they are let into the whole secret from first to last, of every thing which concerns you. It is in pure compliance with this humourof theirs, and from a backwardness in my nature to disappoint any one soul living, that I have been so very particular already. As my life and opinions are likely to make some noise in the world, and, if I conjecture right, will take in all ranks, professions, and denominations of men whatever, — be no less read than the Pilgrim’s Progress itself — and, in the end, prove the very thing which Montaigne dreaded his essays should turn out, that is, a book for a parlour-window ; — I find it necessary to consult every one a little in his turn See for instance this passage in Chapter 4: we, readers, are to blame for having expectations about how the novel will best serve us. And thus it is out fault that the book is so long!

I.xii à As the reader (for I hate your ifs) has a thorough knowledge of human nature, I need not say more to satisfy him, that my Hero could not go on at this rate without some slight experience of these incidental mementos.

Jane Austen will later take on reader expectations about their heroes when she constructs a heroine that lacks all the proper romantic entanglements to guarantee her place as a protagonist.
I.xiii à IT is so long since the reader of this rhapsodical work has been parted from the midwife, that it is high time to  mention her again to him, merely to put him in mind that there is such a body still in the world, and whom, upon the best judgment I can form upon my own plan at present, — I am going to introduce to him for good and all : But afresh matter  may be started, and much unexpected business fall out betwixt the reader and myself, which may require immediate dispatch ; —- ’twas right to take care that the poor woman should not be lost in the mean time ; — because when she is wanted we can no way do without her.
I.xv à — so that I was doom’d, by marriage articles, to have my nose squeez’d as flat to my face, as if the destinies had actually spun me without one. How this event came about, — and what a train of vexatious disappointments, in one stage or other of my life, have pursued me from the mere loss, or rather compression, of this one single member, — shall be laid before the reader all in due time. Novelists used this clever trick to introduce cliffhangers at the end of volumes. This was a crafty way to ensure readers would feel compelled to buy another book. (use example from haywood from Licensing Ent.). Sterne plays with anticipation by announcing key moments of his life and instantly undermining their importance over another “timely” digression.
I.xviii  à I must beg leave, before I finish this chapter, to enter a caveat in the breast of my fair reader ; — and it is this : —- Not to take it absolutely for granted from an unguarded word or two which I have dropp’d in it, —- “That I am a married man.” … All I plead for, in this case, Madam, is strict justice, and that you do so much of it, to me as well as to yourself, — as not to prejudge or receive such an impression of me, till you have better evidence, than I am positive, at present, can be produced against me : … —- It is not impossible, but that my dear, dear Jenny ! tender as the appellation is, may be my child, —- Consider, — I was born in the year eighteen. — Nor is there any thing unnatural or extravagant in the supposition, that my dear Jenny may be my friend. —- Friend ! — My friend. — Surely, Madam, a friendship between the two sexes may subsist, and be supported without —— Fy ! Mr. Shandy : — Without any thing, Madam, but that tender and delicious sentiment, which ever mixes in friendship,where there is a difference of sex. Let me intreat you to study the pure and sentimental parts of the best French Romances ; —- it will really, Madam, astonish you to see with what a varietyof chaste expression this delicious sentiment, which I have the honour to speak of, is dress’d out. This is the first mention of a female reader. Though this index has cleverly ignored such instances, TS also refers to readers as “sir” or “madam” when he feels he is approaching a touchy matter.

Here Shandy also plays with his vague grasp of time: though the novel goes back and forth between his birth and his conception, between a grown Shandy and a not-yet existing Shandy, our narrator throws us the possibility that Jenny is his daughter only to immediately assert that we haven’t been doing the math right—he is much too young to have fathered her, pay attention, little reader!

Use Manley and Richardson as examples for what the French Romances did

I.xix à I mention this, not only as matter of hypothesis or conjecture upon the progress and establishment of my father’s many odd opinions, — but as a warning to the learned reader against the indiscreet reception of such guests, who, after a free and undisturbed enterance, for some years, into our brains, — at length claim a kind of settlement there, , —- …

— for in the year sixteen, which was two years before I was born, he was at the pains of writing an express DISSERTATION simply upon the word Tristram, — shewing the world, with great candour and modesty, the grounds of his great abhorrence to the name. When this story is compared with the title-page, — Will not the gentle reader pity my father from his soul ?

Our hero was doomed from the start! Not only from the start, but even the start before the start—the title page! Doomed by his very name. This passage makes me wonder how many readers would at this time actually close the book to look at its title or any other telling signs—a very material reminder of the object that is delivering us this story!

Mention Haywood (or behn??) and her different titles for the trilogy
I.xx à I wish the male-reader has not pass’d by many a one, as quaint and curious as this one, in which the female-reader has been detected. I wish it may have its effects ; — and that all good people, both male and female, from her example, may be taught to think as well as read. If the reader has the curiosity to see the question upon baptism, by injection, as presented to the Doctors of the Sorbonne, — with their consultation thereupon, it is as follows.

Sterne/Shandy (it’s hard to tell!) call us out for our inattentive reading, or our incapacity to read between the lines. Having mentioned earlier that he should have been born before he was Christened, he expected the (female) reader to conclude his mother was Protestant. If you missed that, you are obviously more curious and eager than you are attentive. Bad reader! Bad reader!
I.xxi à My way is ever to point out to the curious, different tracts of investigation, to come at the first springs of the events I tell ; — not with a pedantic Fescue, — or in the decisive Manner of Tacitus, who outwits himself and his reader ; — but with the officious humility of a heart devoted to the assistance merely of the inquisitive ; — to them I write, —- and by them I shall be read, —- if any such reading as this could be supposed to hold out so long, to the very end of the world.
I.xxii à   For in this long digression which I was accidentally led into, as in all my digressions (one only excepted) there is a master-stroke of digressive skill, the merit of which has all along, I fear, been overlooked by my reader, — not for want of penetration in him, — but because ’tis an excellence seldom looked for, or expected indeed, in a digression ; — and itis this : That tho’ my digressions are all fair, as you observe, — and that I fly off from what I am about, as far and as often too as any writer in Great-Britain ; yet I constantly take care to order affairs so, that my main business does not stand still in my absence.

Shandy begins with one of many comparisons of his writing to the art of painting, and reprimands the reader for missing the intricacies of the brush strokes that turn the digressions into the “big picture.”

Shandy implies that there are times when he is “absent” from the story, and that the narrative is so well crafted it can conduct itself even without his medling!

Quote about genius writing freely? Maybe?
I.xxiià Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine ; —- they are the life, the soul of reading ; — take them out of this book for instance, — you might as well take the book along with them; — one cold eternal winter would reign in every page of it ; restore them to the writer ; —- he steps forth like a bridegroom, — bids All hail ; brings in variety, and forbids the appetite to fail.

All the dexterity is in the good cookeryand management of them, so as to be not only for the advantage of the reader, but also of the author, whose distress, in this matter, is truely pitiable : For, if he begins a digression, — from that moment, I observe, his whole work stands stock-still ; — and if he goes on with his main work, —- then there is an end of his digression.

—- This is vile work. — For which reason, from the beginning of this, you see, I have constructed the main work and the adventitious parts of it with such intersections, and have so complicated and involved the digressive and progressive movements, one wheel within another, that the whole machine, in general, has been kept a-going ; — and, what’s more, it shall be kept a-going these forty years, if it pleases the fountain of health to bless me so long with life and good spirits.

I.xxv à What these perplexities of my uncle Toby were, —- ’tis impossible for you to guess ; — if you could, — I should blush ; not as a relation, — not as a man, — noreven as a woman, — but I should blush as an author ; inasmuch as I set no small store by myself upon this very account, that my reader has never yet been able to guess at any thing. And in this, Sir, I am of so nice and singular a humour, that if I thought you was able to form the least judgment or probable conjecture to yourself, of what was to come in the next page, — I would tear it out of my book.

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