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Each text page is characterised by an intricate system of hyphens, dashes, asterisks, and occasional crosses; remarkable use is particularly made of the dash - varying in length, these are often treated as though they were words, while the small type area and generous spacing and margins of the original volumes emphasise their visibility.
Other oddities scattered throughout the volumes include the black page when Yorick dies, the hand marbled page where each side is uniquely different, parallel texts in Latin and English, one sentence chapters, misplaced chapters and missing chapters - as in volume 4, where the pagination jumps from page 146 to 156 on account of missing chapter 24, thereby misnumbering all the subsequent right hand pages as even (when, as everyone knows, they are always odd).
Such peculiarities draw attention to the appearance of the page and highlight the novel's lack of conventional form; indeed, although written in a conversational style, the enjoyment of the book very much depends upon the reader experiencing it as a physical object.
[Anon.]Vol.1 of the Third edition London, 1760: Sp Coll Hunterian Db.3.40; A sentimental journey through France and Italy. Yorick New edition London, 1770: Sp Coll BC13-b.5-6; A sentimental journey through France and Italy. Yorick London, 1784: Sp Coll NO.9.25 and Sp Coll Bo10-g.24; A sentimental journey through France and Italy. Yorick with 6 plates London, 1792: Sp Coll BG46-l.4; Sermons Vols 5-7 London, 1769: Sp Coll Bo4-k.19-21; The works of Laurence Sterne ... To which is prefixed, an account of the life and writings of the author with portrait and 2 plates London, 1775 Sp Coll Bo2-m.23-29; The beauties of Sterne; including many of his letters and sermons, all his pathetic tales, humorous descriptions, and most distinguished observations on life ... To which are prefixed, memoirs of his life and family.
(Vol.7 wanting) Dublin, 1774: Sp Coll 127-132; The works of Laurence Sterne, A. London, 1793: Sp Coll 937; Letters of the late Rev.
The peculiarities of the book are such that examining the originals are crucial to a real understanding of the startling originality of the text, with its intimate interweaving of verbal and visual elements.
Sterne saw each volume through the press himself, despite having to travel to London from Yorkshire.
His body, however, was recognized by a fan and quietly returned to its grave.
Other early editions of Sterne: The life and opinions of Tristram Shandy.
However, he has so much to relate about his eccentric family that he does not manage to get born until the 4th volume.
Realizing, finally, that his task is hopeless - it taking him more time to tell the story than to live his life - the novel ends by concluding that its readers have been taken in by a cock and bull story.