A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY (VOL 1)
Note that this is an experimental text, and it is not written in a straightforward, clear way. I have added the chapter numbers, which do not exist in the novel; instead, each section is headed by a location and/or an object or individual. Sterne was initially planned as a four-volume work, but was, fittingly (given the fragmentary nature of the work), never finished. It concludes at the end of Volume 2. This novel incorporates a lot of French words–be sure you have some idea of what they mean! Most can be discovered through context, but look them up if you don’t know.
List of Characters:
- YORICK, the sentimental traveler.
- FATHER LORENZO, a Franciscan monk.
- MONSIEUR DESSEIN, master of the hotel at Calais.
- MADAME DE L——
- LA FLEUR, servant to Yorick.
- The owner of a dead ass.
- The wife of a glove merchant.
- An old French officer.
- A tall German.
- A dwarf.
- MARQUISINA DI F——
- MADAME DE RAMBOULIET.
- Fille de chambre to Madame R——
- A chevalier of St. Louis.
- MARQUIS D’E——
- COUNT DE B——
- A Parisian landlord.
- A girl selling laces.
- A flattering beggar.
- MARIA, a mad girl.
- A French farmer and his family.
- A Piedmontese lady.
- Her fille de chambre.
Volume I Reading Guide
- Add brief notes to each chapter here, indicating what happens. A few words will do. You can link related chapters. You can also note down specific questions.
Chapter 1, p5: A sentimental journey, &c. &c.
Chapter 2, p6: Calais
Chapter 3, p7-8: The Monk. Calais.
Chapter 4, p8-9: The Monk. Calais.
Chapter 5, p9-10: The Monk. Calais.
Chapter 10, p10: The Desobligeant. Calais.
Chapter 11, p11-14: Preface in the Desobligeant.
Chapter 12, p15-16: Calais.
Chapter 13, p16-17: In the Street. Calais.
Chapter 14, p17-19: The Remise Door. Calais.
Chapter 15, p19-20. The Remise Door. Calais.
Chapter 16, p20-22. The Snuff Box. Calais.
Chapter 17, p22-23. The Remise Door. Calais.
Chapter 18, p24-25. In the Street. Calais.
Chapter 19, p25-26. The Remise. Calais.
Chapter 20, p26-27: The Remise. Calais.
Chapter 21, p27: The Remise. Calais.
Chapter 22, p28-29: In the Street. Calais.
Chapter 23, p30-31: Montruil.
Chapter 24, p31-32: Montruil.
Chapter 25, p32-33: Montruil.
Chapter 26, p33-34. Montruil.
Chapter 27, p34-35: A Fragment.
Chapter 28, p35-37. Montruil.
Chapter 29, P37-38: The Bidet.
Chapter 30, p39-40: Nampont. The Dead Ass.
Chapter 31, p40-41: Nampont. The Postillion.
Chapter 32, p41-43: Amiens.
Chapter 33, p43-45. The Letter. Amiens.
Chapter 34, p46: The Letter.
Chapter 35, p47: Paris.
Chapter 36, p48-49: The Wig. Paris.
Chapter 37, p49-51: The Pulse. Paris.
Chapter 38, p51-52: The Husband. Paris.
Chapter 39, p52-53: The Gloves. Paris.
Chapter 40, p54-56: The Translation. Paris.
Chapter 41, p56-58. The Dwarf. Paris.
Chapter 42, p59-60: The Rose. Paris.
- Specific Questions: Answer ALL of these questions as you read.
- Where does Yorick first arrive when he gets to the Continent? Be specific. What town?
- Does Yorick give the Monk he meets money?
- What happens in the affair of the snuff-box?
- What are four things we know about La Fleur?
- What does Yorick do to the young Grisset?
- What is the outcome of the altercation Yorick witnesses in the playhouse between the German and the Dwarf?
- Broad Questions: Select TWO to respond to. Indicate places in the text that are relevant to the question in your response. I will ask you to respond to two different questions in the second reading guide assignment.
- What is Yorick’s character like? What makes him a distinctive character–how does he think, feel, and act? What are his character traits? Who does he meet, where does he go, and why? Identify an example situation/encounter that really captures his character traits, and describe it here.
- This is a “sentimental” novel or a novel of “sentiment.” Feeling and emotion are central to the plot and the character–and to a lot of the conflict in the story. Sentimentalism was a moral concept based on individual sensuous experience, which leads to a tension–what is called “sentimental commerce”–between personal pleasure and social virtue. Find some places throughout the novel where Yorick feels something profound, but which also has sensuous, pleasurable components, note them down, and explain what is happening.
- Objects are really important in this story. What are some objects that seem to take on extra meaning? What objects does Yorick imbue with meaning or significance, especially emotional significance? How does the exchange of objects seem to carry along the “sentimental commerce” noted above? Identify sample objects from the text and discuss their significance briefly.
- How are women represented in the story–especially women of a lower class than Yorick seems to be? How are they described? In what situations does Yorick typically encounter them? How does he feel toward them? What about others of a lower class? How does Yorick feel about people of different classes, races, abilities, and so on? Find examples that seem to be significant or interesting.
- Feeling, in these kinds of sentimental novels–especially feeling aroused by nature, beauty, or others’ grief–is often understood to be a sign of a pure, loving, and open heart, a moral heart. But this becomes more complicated when others’ grief becomes a spectacle. Notice scenes where Yorick is feeling some way about another character’s grief, pain, or difficulty. What do these scenes tell you about sentiment? About moral feeling in the novel? What seems to be wrong with this kind of sentimental encounter? Can you connect it to any contemporary examples or examples in your own life?
- This is also a travel narrative, that details a new kind of travel and a new kind of traveler–sentimental. What kind of traveler is Yorick? How does he seem to understand travel–what is its purpose? Did he plan his travel? Critics have noted that this novel parodies elements of “The Grand Tour,” which was a rite of passage for wealthy young men in the 18th century–they were sent abroad to travel through Europe, see art, sow their wild oats, and experience something of “the world.” How does Yorick’s travel differ from this?
- This is a funny novel–what seems funny to you? Why? Identify a few places where you see Yorick (or Sterne) being funny, and try to explain the joke.
- This is also a pretty sexual novel, full of sexual jokes and situations. Why? What purpose does it serve?
- Consider the style of writing Sterne has created in this novel. What is distinctive about it? What features strike you as strange, interesting, or particularly effective? Explain your thoughts here.
Download Volume 2 questions below:
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