skip to content

Sterne and Sterneana : Voyage sentimental

Sterne, Laurence 1713-1768, Frénais, Joseph-Pierre -1788?, Combe, William 1742-1823

Sterne and Sterneana

<p style='text-align: justify;'><p>This edition of Joseph-Pierre Frénais's translation of <i>A Sentimental Journey</i> complements earlier editions, including the first in 1769, and the 'Nouvelle Edition' published in 1774 (see Oates.340). Its version of Sterne's text is by and large the same as these earlier editions, within the wider context of the reception of both author and novel in France during this period. It is also distinctive in its textual packaging, and its addition of further texts which enhance and enrich French readers' perception of Sterne's output.</p><p>As the title-page declares, this edition also includes a translation of <i>Letters from Yorick to Eliza</i> and <i>Letters from Eliza to Yorick</i> (see also CCD.5.185; Oates.367). The first of these two texts, which was published in English in 1773 and subsequently reprinted in 1775, was the first edition of Sterne's letters to appear in print. It consists of ten letters Sterne had written to the woman he came to love in the final year of his life, Elizabeth Draper, who had travelled to Bombay to join her husband in March 1767. Sterne's attachment to Eliza, whatever its actual nature, is crucial for understanding his state of mind and his authorial activities during this period: the composition of <i>A Sentimental Journey</i>, published in February 1768, of numerous letters (to Eliza and to other correspondents), and of the <i>Bramine's Journal</i> (sometimes known as the <i>Journal to Eliza</i>) all ran concurrently during 1767, as a severely ill Sterne grappled with physical disease, and emotional and mental turmoil. Although the <i>Bramine's Journal</i> was not rediscovered until the later nineteenth century, the publication of <i>Letters from Yorick to Eliza</i> - which shares several passages with the <i>Journal</i> - provides an eighteenth-century context for understanding how important this attachment was to Sterne's practice as a writer, and to his contemporary reception.</p><p>For his immediate audience, the association between these <i>Letters</i> and <i>A Sentimental Journey</i> must have been inescapable: the novel incorporates several allusions to Eliza, the idea of whom seems to haunt its composition. And, of course, that association would have been all the more inescapable when these texts were published together, as they are in this 1786 edition of <i>Voyage sentimental</i>. The imaginative associations stretch further still by the presence, in this volume, of <i>Letters from Eliza to Yorick</i>, almost certainly a spurious collection which attempts to inhabit the same vein of sentiment and style as Sterne's <i>Letters from Yorick to Eliza</i>. The combination of Sternean texts with an item of Sterneana in the same volume suggests the part-factual, part-fictional dimensions of public appreciation of Sterne - man and work - which continued to intensify in the years following his death (and with the publication of further volumes of letters, including the collection edited by his daughter, Lydia Medalle, under the title <i>Letters of the late Rev. Mr. Laurence Sterne, To his most Intimate Friends</i>, in 1775 [Oates.389-91]). That the Yorick-Eliza correspondence, actual and fabricated, was so rapidly translated into French, and packaged with a translation of <i>A Sentimental Journey</i>, suggests the ongoing appeal to continental readers of this quixotic author and his output in an age increasingly invested in sensibility.</p><p>This particular volume also includes a further item of Sterneana: a frontispiece depicting a version of Joshua Reynold's famous painting of Sterne, created in April 1760, and subsequently reproduced in numerous engravings (not least as a frontispiece to Sterne's own <i>Sermons of Mr. Yorick</i> [Oates.137]). This engraver distorts Sterne's facial features considerably, almost beyond recognisability - despite the identifying caption 'Laurent Sterne' - testifying to the history of grotesque reproductions of this portrait traced by René Bosch. The distortion is undoubtedly due to lack of skill rather than malicious intent here, but the inclusion of the portrait frontispiece itself indicates the close alliance between Laurence Sterne as man (and as clergyman) with his fictional creations and personae.</p><p>Mary Newbould</p><p><b>References:</b></p><p>Arthur H. Cash, <i>Laurence Sterne: The Later Years</i> (London: Methuen, 1986)</p><p>Lana Asfour, <i>Laurence Sterne in France</i> (London: Continuum, 2008)</p><p>Laurence Sterne, <i>'A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy' and 'Continuation of the Bramine's Journal'</i>, ed. Melvyn New and W. G. Day (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002)</p><p>Laurence Sterne, <i>The Letters: Part 2 1739-1764</i> and <i>The Letters: Part 2: 1765-1768</i>, ed. Melvyn New and Peter de Voogd (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009)</p><p>Melvyn New and Peter de Voogd, 'Ten Letters from Yorick to Eliza: A New Edition', <i>The Shandean</i>, 16 (2005), 70-107 (72)</p><p>Melvyn New and Peter de Voogd, 'The 1773 Edition of <i>Letters from Yorick to Eliza</i>: A Facsimile', <i>The Shandean</i>, 15 (2004), 79-105</p><p>Peter Budrin, 'The Shadow of Eliza', in <i>Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey</i>, ed. Gerard and Newbould, 194-212</p><p>Peter de Voogd and John Neubauer, eds, <i>The Reception of Laurence Sterne in Europe</i> (London and New York: Thoemmes Continuum, 2004)</p><p>René Bosch, '"Character" in Reynold's portrait of Sterne', <i>The Shandean</i>, 6 (1994), 8-23</p></p>

Want to know more?

Under the 'More' menu you can find , and information about sharing this image.

No Contents List Available
No Metadata Available


If you want to share this page with others you can send them a link to this individual page:
Alternatively please share this page on social media

You can also embed the viewer into your own website or blog using the code below: