chapter  1
34 Pages

Making Noise: Sterneana and Adaptation

In January 1760 something remarkable happened in London that attracted sufficient attention to merit being called a phenomenon. Following their initial publication at York in December 1759, the first two volumes of Laurence Sterne’s Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman arrived in the capital and ignited the curiosity of all manner of readers from the nobility downwards – perhaps even to ‘common whores’: ‘Sir, will you have your clock wound-up?’ apparently became a popular hawking cry for prostitutes around this time.2 Soon, such a blazing desire for all things Shandean raged that, according to Sterne’s biographer Arthur H. Cash, when the author himself arrived shortly afterwards he found to his delight that ‘there was not such a Book to be had in London either for Love or money’.3 ‘Tristram is the Fashion’, Sterne proudly declared to Catherine Fourmantel, singer and transient object of his affections.4