Was Tristram Shandy, 1723, the 1st post modern novel

Post modern literature,  according to literary scholars,  came about following World War II. In the above link many examples are listed, and like anyone with a list, not all will be agreeable to everyone. Some of the titles stretch the concept.

Of course post-modernism is often difficult to categorize, and the link I provided in above paragraph doesn’t get to the heart of it.

Much of post modern literature revolves around the author, the narrative, and nature of fiction. It is experimental in nature, it looks inward, is playful, chiding the author, the story, and the reader. Think Donald Barthelme, J. G. Ballard, Thomas Pynchon, just to name three of many.

My favorite novel is The Universal Baseball Association, J. Henry Waugh, proprietor. It is about  J. Henry Waugh who works for a small firm of accountants and bookkeepers. He likes B-girls and delicatessens and loves playing his creation-a baseball game played with dice. He has created teams, players, and results, not only of plays, but of histories for all his players. The game is as elaborate as any novel. As we get deeper into the story the more the players take center stage and J. Henry Waugh slowly disappears from the story until all that is left are the characters Waugh created who now have a life of there own.

Robert Coover is the author of the novel, but Waugh is the creator of the game-of course Coover is behind it all- and Waugh disappears, his (Coover or Waugh’s or both)characters are important, they are of interest, not the author. This is one of the playful non-narrative narratives of post modernism.

What is the nature of fiction? Of the author? Post modern writers play with these ideas through satire, humor, digressions, and all sorts of tricks.

But the nine volume The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne was written between 1759-1767 was not written post World War II, but two centuries before anyone heard of post modernism. Yet Sterne’s Shandy is bawdy, satirical, and has all the signs of post modernism. Shandy sets out to tell his biography, but his stories go off in so many tangents, he never gets around to his biography. Midway through his third volume he seems apologetic for not having gotten past the first day of his life. And now he realizes a year after starting this biography that he has 364 more days of his life to cover. He will never catch up.

The post modernist traits to Stern’s epic indicates to me the old Peter Allen song, Everything Old is New Again. As the saying goes, there is nothing new under the sun.

I don’t belive my e-novels at Amazon are post modern, perhaps not even modern, but there might, perhaps could be, but probably not be . . . well who likes categories and pigeon holes anyway.

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