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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy - Study Guide Volume 7 Summary & Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 29 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy.
This section contains 540 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)

Volume 7 Summary

The volume begins with Tristram lamenting his ill health, worrying that there is a possibility he will not be able to finish his book. Upon consultation with Eugenuis, he decides he can run away from death by traveling abroad. Immediately after making the decision, he travels to the port in Dover.

Tristram's first port of call is Calais. He writes a report on the history of the town and then moves on to Bologne. He then sets off to Paris, and, via Montreal and Abbeville, he arrives there by stagecoach. Tristram expects much from Paris, but immediately complains that the streets are ugly and the place smells. He moves to Lyon in order to run further away from death. In between Lyon and Paris, Tristram recounts a tale of a previous trip to France with his father, Uncle Toby and Trim.

In Lyon, he encounters a few problems. First, he sells his damaged carriage and then makes friends with an ass. He plans to make his next trip by boat to Avignon, but a man forces him to pay money for a carriage, saying he has a legal obligation to pay. After a disagreement, Tristram sees no way out and pays the money. Unfortunately, as he is about to leave on his new journey, he realizes he has forgotten his travel notes. Eventually he finds them all crumpled up under a lady's hat.

In the South of France, Tristram feels confident he has outrun death and travels happily around the region on a mule. By the end of the volume, he promises to go back to the story about his Uncle Toby and the Widow Wadham.

Volume 7 Analysis

This is the first and only time Tristram's actual life dominates a volume. As a result, it is the most realistic part of the novel and where Tristram leaves behind his bawdy humor. It is not that the volume is without humor, but the comedy is darker. For example, the claim he is traveling to run away from death blackens even the more farcical moments such as when he makes friends with an ass (donkey).

In this volume, Tristram experiments with the theme of reality. For example, he expects the reader to believe he has a close bond with Eugenuis, a character rarely mentioned in the book, and someone to whom Tristram has never shown any closeness. In this regard, he implys that Eugenuis's earlier depiction as Yorick's faithful adviser is just a symbol of Tristram's own relationship with Eugenuis. In fact, as far as the Yorick story is concerned, Eugenuis should be far older than Tristram, yet Tristram presents Eugenuis as someone near his own age.

Similarly, his talk of death recalls his brother Bobby's death. Bobby was about to take a trip to Europe before he died. In these terms, Tristram's death could be seen as homage to his sibling, but within this theme of reality, the reader wonders how much of the details of Tristram's life is pure fabrication. In other words, was Bobby's death real or just symbolic of Tristram's own sufferings? At the end of the novel, Tristram pronounces his epic as cock and bull, and this chapter, capturing Tristram in a more unguarded moment, foreshadows this statement.

This section contains 540 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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