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Book Cover for: Laurence Sterne: A Life, Ian Campbell Ross

Laurence Sterne: A Life

Ian Campbell Ross

"I wrote to be famous, not to be fed," said Laurence Sterne upon publication of his comic masterpiece, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. And indeed, almost overnight, Sterne achieved fame beyond his wildest dreams. In this fascinating biography, Ian Campbell Ross shows how the great comic author combined a genius for self-promotion with a clear grasp of the nascent business of publishing to soar across the cultural and social firmament of mid-18th century England.
Ross begins with Sterne's childhood in Yorkshire and follows the young gentleman's progress to Cambridge and then to the Church of England and a humdrum rural vicarage. He describes his unhappy marriage to a woman who suffered a nervous breakdown and at one time believed herself to be the Queen of Bohemia, as well as his many scandalous liaisons with other women, experiences that helped inform his Rabelaisian novel. But the heart of the book is Ross's account of the country parson's sudden rise to prominence, swept up in a frenzy of celebrity excessive even by today's standards. Ross draws us into the glamorous world of literary London--a world of power and privilege ruled by fashionable legislators of taste--showing how Sterne marketed himself, as well as his novel, by seeking favors from influential critics, famous authors, and even leading statesmen.
Laurence Sterne: A Life is the first full biography to appear in fifteen years. Ian Campbell Ross makes deft use of recently discovered material, particularly a holograph of Sterne's memoir, to shed new light on the man, his work, and the nature of celebrity.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publish Date: Oct 10th, 2002
  • Pages: 514
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.04in - 6.40in - 1.08in - 1.50lb
  • EAN: 9780192804068
  • Categories: Literary FiguresEnglish, Irish, Scottish, Welsh

About the Author

Ian Campbell Ross is A Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, and Senior Lecturer in English.

Praise for this book

"Excellent."--The Economist

"Readable, judicious, and scrupulously researched."--The Independent

"Faultless.... This will become the definitive work on one of our most remarkable literary figures."--Simon Heffer, Country Life