By Sterne, Laurence; Howes, Alan B.; Sterne, Laurence
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Additional info for Laurence Sterne : the critical heritage
Though Sterne’s ‘philosophy’ may not have been exactly ‘the most brilliant invention of eighteenth century anglomania’37 since some English readers also appreciated this side of Sterne, it is nonetheless true that Sterne was often taken more seriously in other countries than in his own. ’38 Sterne’s sensibility likewise found a receptive audience in the France of Rousseau as well as in the Germany of the young Goethe and the Storm and Stress movement, but his humor was also appreciated by enthusiastic individual readers with tastes as different as those of Goethe and Voltaire.
Anna Seward herself called attention to the ‘happy, thrice happy, mixture of the humorous and the pathetic’ (No. 84a), and Leonard MacNally, imitator of Sterne and author of a dramatic adaptation of Tristram Shandy, felt the works of Sterne would always have a place ‘in the hands, in the heads, and in the hearts of every man, ay, and every woman too, of feeling’ (No. 88a). VI. 1790–1815: PLAGIARISM AND SENTIMENT During the next twenty-five years the preference for Sterne’s pathetic side continued, reinforced by Dr John Ferriar’s discoveries of Sterne’s plagiarisms, which usually involved his humorous material.
Yorick appeared without the furor which had accompanied the publication of the first two volumes of sermons (No. 50). After his return to England, Sterne’s immediate concern was another installment of Tristram Shandy and the occasional glimpses we catch of him during the composition of the lone ninth volume show a man unchanged. Sterne wonders how he can ‘keep up that just balance betwixt wisdom and folly, without which a book would not hold together a single year’ (No. 52a); and to a Black admirer who has written to en-list his talents in the cause against Negro slavery, he replies that his pen is ‘at the service of the afflicted’ (No.