ITEM:In Germany, Sterne's work was quickly celebrated by Goethe and the Romantic movement, influencing the young Karl Marx who wrote a novel in imitation, and defended his own comic dissent in struggles with the Prussian censor in Shandean terms: "If seriousness is not to come under Tristram Shandy's definition according to which it is a hypocritical behaviour of the body in order to conceal defects of the soul, then... I treat the ludicrous seriously when I treat it ludicrously, and the most serious immodesty of the mind is to be modest in the face of immodesty."
I apologise for such an obscure introductory passage as the one above. I was seeking a link between the young Karl Marx and Laurence Sterne, the author of Tristram Shandy. TS may not be in everyone's library --and if the truth be known this early, it's not in mine either -- but it has a reputation of sorts and in pursuit of that reputation I have been trying to track down a copy.
Why this side of the 20th century should a copy of such an archaic idiosyncratic novel be so hard to come by? (I ask myself or anyone else who is listening) And why should I have to settle for Sentimental Journey and Other Writings while I continue my hot pursuit?
Yes I know that the text can be read on the web but thats' one screen shot after another. Bah! Give me hard copy.
As you see my interest is peaked: Lawrence Sterne - Karl Marx? when I always thought that it was Honore Balzac who was Marx's favorite. So what gives with this 18th century clergyman who is only indirectly recalled today because a brand of cereal products-- Uncle Tobys -- is named after one of his characters.
Who today goes by a similar Marxian attribute? Karl Marx's Wheat Chrispies?
Unlikley. Sterne's "Uncle Toby" has really landed on his feet as he now owns : asia@home, Bluebird, Breakfree, Cornwell's, Country Cup, Crisco, Defiance, ETA, Gold'n Canola, Healthwise, Holbrooks, Le Snak, Logicol, Meadow Lea, Mrs McGregor's, Olivani, Olive Grove, Pampas, Paul Newman's Own, Praise, Roll-Ups, Vetta, Vita Brits, White Wings..as well as his namesake 'family' brand.
So from within the pages of such a novel Karl Marx drew inspiration and Australasia's largest food manufacturer markets stuff.
Who would have guessed?
But then I think that may indeed be a Sterne like attribute.
Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like an nightmare on the brains of the living...
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon by Karl Marx