Document Type : Research article


1 Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.

2 Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Persian Literature and Foreign Languages, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran.


The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, one of the most unorthodox works ever written, substantially differs from most of the novels of its time and later eighteenth-century in its plot, narration, and treatment of characters. In this paper, different aspects of the novel that challenge and deconstruct the points of origin in the life and character of Tristram Shandy are examined. It is demonstrated that Tristram Shandy detaches itself from the unconditional stages in the traditional narratives that are often taken for granted, including the birth as the genesis of the characters, a solid belief in the purposefulness of a narrative for moral or educational ends, the fixity of beginnings and the rational order of ideas in the human mind. The article is divided into four major parts, including the birth, history, life, and human subjectivity and aims at showing several unique aspects of the novel while being mindful of the close reading of the text as well. To this end, the article concentrates particularly on the events revolving around Tristram Shandy, his father Walter and Uncle Toby. The Lockean association of ideas, which Sterne turns into a parody of Locke’s original thesis later in the narrative, is explored in the article as well.