Sterne must be a gift of God to the post-modernists, ready made grist for their smallgrinding mills. Dr Johnson, usually a sound critic, made one of the great critical misjudgments in English literature when he said: "Nothing odd will do long. Tristram Shandy did not last." In fact, it has outlasted most of Dr Johnson's writings, though Sterne had written virtually nothing before he published the first two books in 1759 and was merely an obscure, Irish-born clergyman living in Yorkshire. This very strange novel looks backwards to Rabelais and forward to Joyce or Flann O'Brien. This edition has a long, eloquent introductory essay by Christophe Ricks.