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Is Sex Necessary?: Tristram Shandy’s Bend Sinister

Abstract : This paper is concerned with certain problems raised by the interpretation of literary texts. It offers a number of interrogations that have to do with questions of semantics and pragmatics. How do texts belonging to the past make sense when they are read in new contexts that their authors could not have predicted? I argue that one of the main purposes of a close reading is to discover symptoms that can be arranged into patterns which will help us look at ourselves and at the world in new ways. More specifically, this paper focuses on the notion of crisis. There are times when our identity and our relations to others and society at large appear to have lost their stability. The examples that will be analysed mainly deal with issues involving sex and procreation and are borrowed from Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy (1760-1767) and virtually never touched upon in the current critical literature on the novel. Why do we still read and enjoy Tristram Shandy in the 21st Century, even though our culture has changed and our reading habits are different? What does it reveal to us about our crises?
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https://hal.univ-reims.fr/hal-02489987
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Submitted on : Monday, February 24, 2020 - 5:58:00 PM
Last modification on : Monday, September 7, 2020 - 11:44:23 AM

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Daniel Thomières. Is Sex Necessary?: Tristram Shandy’s Bend Sinister. Studia Universitatis Babeș-Bolyai Philosophia, Presa Universitară Clujeană, 2012, pp.243-264. ⟨hal-02489987⟩

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