Tatler No. 260 and Tristram Shandy

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
James E. Evans, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Noses are prominent in Volumes III and IV of Tristram Shandy — Tristram's crushed nose, his great-grandfather's short nose, the stranger's attractive nose in "Slawkenbergius's Tale," and a "chapter of noses." Although Swift's bawdy use of ears in A Tale of a Tub has been suggested as a possible precedent for this olfactory interest, the essay on noses in Taller no. 260, published on December 7, 1710, also provides an analogue and possible source of this motif in the novel. Like Tristram, Isaac Bickerstaff expresses concern for varied readers, such as "my philosophical friends of the Royal Society," "my learned reader," and "the young men of this town."1 More closely analogous to Tristram Shandy is Bickerstaffs fond hope that "Notwithstanding that there is nothing obscene in natural knowledge, and that I intend to give as little offence as may be to readers of a well-bred imagination, I must, for my own quiet, desire the critics (who in all times have been famous for good noses) to refrain from the lecture of this curious tract."2 In chapter xxxi of Volume III Tristram similarly draws attention to possible bawdiness by declaring his dependence upon "the cleanliness of my reader's imaginations." After "beseeching" his reader to guard against double entendre, Tristram concludes: "For by the word Nose, throughout all this long chapter of noses, and in every other part of my work, where the word Nose occurs — I declare, by that word I mean a Nose, and nothing more, or less."3

Additional Information

American Notes & Queries 18: 139-40.
Language: English
Date: 1980
English literature, Tristram Shandy, Noses, Ears, Metaphor, Anatomy

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