Tuesday, January 29, 2019

“A North-west passage to the intellectual world”

Walter Shandy has been at work on the Tristrapædia, a system for the education of his son. He explains to Parson Yorick:

Auxiliary verbs? Really? Yes, indeed. They “set the soul a going by herself upon the materials as they are brought to her,” “to open new tracks of enquiry, and make every idea engender millions”:

Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman 5 (1762).

And so on.

James Aiken Work’s notes for the 1940 Odyssey Press edition of the novel point out that Sterne is parodying Matteo Pellgrini (d. 1652), who developed a system of predication that enabled its student to write page after page on any subject.

Also from Sterne
Letters for all occasions : Yorick, distracted : Yorick, translating : Yorick, soulful : Digressions : Uncle Toby and the fly : Heat and knowledge

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