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Chapter 9 - Breaking Down Shame: Narrating Trauma and Repair in Tristram Shandy

from Part III - Uses of Scripture for Fiction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 March 2021

Kevin Seidel
Affiliation:
Eastern Mennonite University, Virginia
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Summary

Chapter 9 focuses on the two chapters that go missing near the end of the novel, where Uncle Toby is finally able to acknowledge his love for Widow Wadman but only, it seems, with a Bible open to the book of Joshua, the passage about the siege of Jericho. Why this passage? And why does Sterne purposefully misnumber and rearrange these chapters of his novel? The mock fortifications that Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim build together, those replicas of military sieges happening in Europe, work in the novel as metaphors for the ways that all books – whether philosophy, scripture, or fiction – can both distance us from difficult intimate relationships and make room to repair them.

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Chapter
Information
Rethinking the Secular Origins of the Novel
The Bible in English Fiction 1678–1767
, pp. 231 - 257
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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