On the website where modern authors name their top ten favorite novels (https://toptenbooks.net/books/percival-everetts-top-ten-list), the American author Percival Everett (1956– ), whose novels include Suder (1983), Zulus (1990), Glyph (1999), Erasure (2001), and more recently, So Much Blue (2017) and The Trees (2021), which was a finalist for the Pen/Jean Stein Book Award, listed as his number ONE book, Tristram Shandy. He describes it thus: “Sterne promises the ‘life and opinions’ of his protagonist. Yet halfway through the fourth volume of nine, we are still in the first day of the hero’s life thanks to marvelous digressions and what the narrator calls ‘unforeseen stoppages’—detailing the quirky habits of his eccentric family members and their friends. This broken narrative is unified by Sterne’s comic touch, which shimmers in this thoroughly entertaining novel that harks back to Don Quixote and foreshadows Ulysses.”

In another list, the top ten eighteenth-century...

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