Shandean Method

From Tristram Shandy, VI.xvii.

In all nice and ticklish discussions — (of which, heaven knows, there are but too many in my book) — where I find I cannot take a step without the danger of having either their worships or their reverences upon my back — I write one half full, — and t’other fasting; — or write it all full, — and correct it fasting; — or write it fasting, — and correct it full, for they all come to the same thing: — So that with a less variation from my father’s plan, than my father’s from the Gothick— I feel myself upon a par with him in his first bed of justice, — and no way inferior to him in his second. —These different and almost irreconcileable effects, flow uniformly from the wise and wonderful mechanism of nature, — of which, — be her’s the honor. —All that we can do, is to turn and work the machine to the improvement and better manufactury of the arts and sciences. —

Now, when I write full, — I write as if I was never to write fasting again as long as I live; —that is, I write free from the cares, as well as the terrors of the world. —I count not the number of my scars, — nor does my fancy go forth into dark entries and bye corners to ante-date my stabs. — In a word, my pen takes its course; and I write on as much from the fullness of my heart, as my stomach. —

But when, an’ please your honours, I indite fasting, ’tis a different history. —I pay the world all possible attention and respect, —and have as great a share (whilst it lasts) of that understrapping virtue of discretion, as the best of you. —So that betixt both, I write a careless kind of a civil, nonsensical, good humoured Shandean book, which will do all your hears good— And all your heads too, —provided you understand it.


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