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'Tristram Shandy': No cock bull

From: Bill Gallagher, Carlisle, PA

As I read your review of “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story,” I glanced occasionally at my yellowed paperback edition of the novel edited by James A. Work that I actually read in one of my graduate courses in the early 70's. Your constant reference to quotations by Zanuck and Merrick and recognition of Jennie's importance to the movie reminded me of what I remembered about the novel itself. Work wrote in his preface of Sterne's "allusions to men and books well known in his century" and sought to provide "the modern reader with some of the information which Sterne assumed his intelligent contemporaries to possess."

Your review serves the same purpose. With its references to “Looking for Richard,” “This is Spinal Tap,” “Lancelot du Lac” and “Day for Night” it underscores what E.D. Hirsh proposed in his book Cultural Literacy. Failure to be literate in any field, whether it be literature, music, art or film is not so much a failure of the ability to understand or deconstruct meaning from work itself but the failure to fully appreciated the allusions made in the work to its antecedents.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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