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Sterne and Sterneana : Another Traveller! or Cursory Remarks and Tritical [sic] Observations made upon a Journey through part of the Netherlands...

Paterson, Samuel 1728-1802

Sterne and Sterneana

<p style='text-align: justify;'><p><i>Another Traveller! Or Cursory Remarks and Tritical Observations made up a Journey through Part of the Netherlands in the Latter End of the Year 1766; By Coriat Junior</i> (1767-9) is a two-volume self-reflexive travel narrative written by bookseller Samuel Paterson in imitation of Laurence Sterne's <i>A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy</i>. Although its title page bears 1767 as the publication date, Paterson's work actually appeared after Sterne's in 1768. Its style, however, indicates the indebtedness of <i>Another Traveller!</i> to <i>Tristram Shandy</i>, in particular its digressive, seemingly chaotic method of story-telling, as projected through the familiar literary motif of journeying. Paterson uses this to reflect satirically on Sterne's success as well as his apparently dubious methods, and through this more generally on the market for publishing popular travel accounts.</p><p>Paterson's Preface immediately alerts readers to his literary model and target. He tells them that 'that reverend joker the facetious Mr. STERNE, hath obliged the world with <i>somewhat of a sort of an itinerary</i> - which tho' a little deficient according to the vulgar method, yet I could wish, from my soul! that the generality of travellers were but half as entertaining -' (I, vi). As 'travelling is the mode', and it is 'no less the mode to print travels' (II, vii), the present author undertakes to produce his own, equally unique travel narrative, but one shaped by a more overtly didactic purpose than Sterne apparently held.</p><p>A two-month journey through the towns of the Low Countries, related by a fictitious narrator Coriat Junior - Thomas Coryat (c.1577-1617) was a real-life traveller and writer - provides a framework for sentimental reflections, descriptions of personal encounters and self-conscious comments on the conventions of travel writing and on the conditions of the publishing market, which frequently take the form of dramatised dialogues. Coriat Junior pays considerable attention to architecture, particularly cathedrals and monasteries, and to the manners of the inhabitants of the Netherlands, whom he admires for their orderly, harmonious and virtuous way of life. These observations are interspersed with remarks on the distinctness of his own travel account - recalling the glances towards Sterne in the Preface, he facetiously parodies <i>Tristram Shandy</i> by stating '<i>I beg leave then to proceed in my own way</i>' (I, 26). He also makes comparisons with other travel books, such as the <i>Grand Tour</i> (Thomas Nugent's 1749 volume bearing this title was highly successful), which he mockingly commends for their circumstantial descriptions of places. The narrator declares that his aim is to focus on the 'low and trite observations upon vulgar manners and customs' rather than 'matters of great importance' (I, 43). Instead, he wants 'this short travel' to be 'narrative, descriptive and sometimes allegorical' and 'seldom without a moral' (I, 180).</p><p>Many chapters take the form of dialogues, which creates the effect of multi-voicedness and reflects the collaborative nature of the imitative writing process. The author responds to his readers' criticisms of the omissions in his account (II, 1), defies his critics' complaints about too favourable a representation of the Catholic clergy (II, 33), and relates the negotiations with his bookseller around the time of his book's publication.</p><p>Although <i>Another Traveller!</i> bears a strong resemblance to Sterne's <i>A Sentimental Journey</i>, Coriat Junior tries to pre-empt the charges of plagiarism by suggesting the antecedence of his own text (I, 248). In fact, the fragmentary structure of the narrative, its digressiveness, self-reflexive comments, and typographic eccentricities, as well as the sentences and expressions borrowed from <i>Tristram Shandy</i>, suggest the indebtedness of Paterson's text to Sterne's fiction. However, <i>Another Traveller!</i> does not share its bawdiness, and its sentimentalism takes the form of more earnest social empathy. Indeed, as some critics suggest, Paterson's text exercises a polemical function which lends it a sense of political urgency in exploring the social and moral issues revealed to the curious eye of the travel writer.</p><p>Joanna Maciulewicz</p><p><b>References:</b></p><p>Newbould, M.-C., <i>Adaptations of Laurence Sterne's Fiction: Sterneana, 1760-1840</i> (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013)</p><p>Turner, Katherine S.H., 'At the Boundaries of Fiction: Samuel Paterson's Another Traveller!', in <i>Tradition in Transition: Women Writers, Marginal Texts and the Eighteenth-Century Canon</i>, ed. S.J. Alvaro Riberio and James G. Basker (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), pp. 145-160.</p></p>

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