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Ballad of Narayama

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Out-Shandying 'Shandy'

From: James Gow, Teaching Fellow, University of King's College
Halifax, NS, Canada

Just a quickie from a film-ignoramus to say I enjoyed reading your review of “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story” just now. Your opening line is priceless, and all too familiar. I've worked on Sterne this past decade. First reading took me a year to finish, and I was an enthusiast. I screened the film here for students and faculty just prior to its NY opening. Though the book is notorious for being the volume-most-hated on English syllabae, for what it's worth, people educated along the lines of impenetrable philosophical theories fondly agree with the sentiments of your review.

I had the privilege/fun of viewing the film with Winterbottom and 100 or so others last summer in the village where Sterne used to live. Patrick (Curator of Shandy Hall, played by Fry in film) set up name-the-cock and guess-the-weight-of-the-bull contests on the green playing field. MW originally wanted us to watch it on different screens throughout Sterne's old home: Non-linear narrative and all that. Oddly, reason prevailed, windows in the village hall were covered with garbage bags, and we got down to business.

I covered that event and the Toronto premiere for the Sterne journal,
The Shandean. Here's an anecdote I hope you'll find funny:

At the Q&A after the Toronto premiere a woman asked the four men on stage, "How many times have you read the novel?"

Winterbottom: "Twice, once at school and once for the film."

Coogan: "Less than once."

Brydon: "About the same as Steve."

Andrew Eaton (producer): "Once and a bit."

Winterbottom: "We're relying on the fact that no one else has read it."

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