A Sentimental Journey (Penguin Classics) - Laurence Sterne

100% delightful! I really had no idea what to expect when starting to read this. I didn't know that I'd actually laugh out loud several times. Perhaps surprise was a significant part of the impression it made on me. At at least one point, I found myself thinking, "Wait, did he really just write that?" But in any case, I'm sure Sterne's reputation as a comic genius is safe for a while. The book is full of amusing incidents and paragraphs -- the famous scene in the Paris shop, where the narrator flirts outrageously with the shop-woman and relates it all in the most disingenuous tone possible; the incident where he's at loss for a polite letter to write to a woman he barely knows, which is to say that he will not see her again -- and his valet presents him a letter for a model (which he's carrying around just why?) from a drummer to a corporal's wife: "Je suis penetré de la douleur la plus vive... ce retour imprevû du Corporal qui rend notre entrevue de ce soir la chose du monde la plus impossible..." and finds it entirely satisfactory to adapt: "It was but changing the Corporal into the Count [the lady’s brother]..." The rambling structure of the book is a joke in itself, for instance the perpetually deferred visit to Madame R*** in Paris. There is much here of a nature that the twentieth century would call "metafictional"; I wonder why it is that most recent writing that prides itself on being metafictional rubs me the wrong way? Well, Sterne's feather-lightness is not given to everyone.