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Sterne, the Moderns, and the Novel$
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Thomas Keymer

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199245925

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199245925.001.0001

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Tristram Shandy and the Freshest Moderns

Tristram Shandy and the Freshest Moderns

Chapter:
(p.153) 5 Tristram Shandy and the Freshest Moderns
Source:
Sterne, the Moderns, and the Novel
Author(s):

Thomas Keymer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199245925.003.0006

By re-emerging at irregular intervals on the literary culture of the 1760s, absorbing or addressing its new products, Sterne could make available to himself an inexhaustible repertoire of intertextual possibilities on which to play, and so subject his own fashionability to perpetual refreshment and renewal. Sometimes there is an adversarial edge to the process, an appearance of satirical challenge, but it is also clear that new writing could have a positive, enabling effect as Sterne worked to develop his largest emphases and themes. In particular, the poetic intertexts analysed in this chapter played a key role in unlocking and developing, in the middle and later instalments of Tristram Shandy, the melancholy possibilities always inherent in the work's fixation on incommunicable and irremediable pasts. The chapter explores the process in relation to James Macpherson's immensely popular Ossianic prose poems of the early 1760s, focused as they are on plangent evocations of loss, and to the contemporaneous ‘Nonsense Club’ satire of Charles Churchill and his imitators, in which Ossian is agressively debunked.

Keywords:   James Macpherson, Ossian, Charles Churchill, Nonsense Club

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