Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Shandean Way

--But for heaven's sake, let us not
talk of quarts or gallons -- let us take
the story straight before us ; it is so nice
and intricate a one, it will scarce bear
the transposition of a single title ; and
some how or other, you have got me
thrust almost into the middle of it --

-- I beg we may take more care.
Tristram Shandy Vol VIII, Chapter VII

Happily I declare, "There is a good hypertext version of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman online."
I am using the design features of Tristram Shandy as an example of the antecedents of the virtual text object (nothing major, just a footnote), where presentation takes over from representation in a narrative, conveying meaning in a 'real' sense.

Design Devices in Tristram Shandy.
Plot ; we get no Life and little of the opinions of TS who appears only in volume 4, is breeched in vol vi, and then disappears. Walter Shandy of Shandy Hall, his brother, Uncle Toby, Corporal Trim. Yorick the Parson, Dr.Slop and Mrs Shandy. The tradition of Learned Wit, Cervantes and Rabelais. "We'll not stop two moments, my dear sir - only, as we have got thought these five volumes (do Sir sit down upon a set - they are better than nothing "

1. The diagrammatic intervention to describe narrative and movement.
2. The sudden advancement of the marbling.
3. Experiments in punctuation.
4. Attempts to render dialogue.
5. The presence of the page, and its echo in the illustration.
6. The parallel text.
7. The depiction of silence and humming.
8. The blank pages.
9. Evoking the other arts in the form of the printed book, theatre, painting and music.

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