Marginalia, no.45

Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine; -they are the life, the soul of reading; -take them out of this book, for instance, – you might as well take the book along with them; – one cold eternal winter would reign in every page of it; restore them to the writer, – he steps forth like a bridegroom, -bids All hail, brings in variety, and forbids the appetite to fail.

~ Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy

It is a generally reliable observation that whatever is true of books is true of life itself.


Filed under Marginalia

3 responses to “Marginalia, no.45

  1. Isn’t Sterne, like so much of Tristam Shandy, satirizing the very nature of the book in which he is writing in this quote? Isn’t the entire book, really, one big long digression?

    This doesn’t in anyway nullify your comment on the quote though. In fact, I guess life in general could be considered one big long digression. hahaha…

  2. Ian Woolcott

    Yes, the whole of Tristram Shandy is one long series of digressions. But that really is the pleasure of it.

  3. This recalls for me Salinger’s defense of digression, as illustrated beautifully during Holden Caulfield’s visit to Antolini, who like Sterne denigrates tangents by indulging overmuch in same.

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