[STERNE, Laurence] A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. By Mr. Yorick. London, J. Creswick, and Co. 1794.
Small 8vo. Contemporary speckled calf, spine with black morocco lettering-piece, ruled and ornamented in gilt; pp. iv, , 272, engraved portrait frontispiece after Reynolds and five engraved plates after M. Archer; hinges a little rubbed, frontispiece and title-page a little brown-spotted due to offsetting from endpapers, otherwise a very attractive and clean copy with only occasional light toning; provenance: near-contemporary engraved armorial bookplate Charles Montolieu Burges inside front cover.
A beautifully illustrated and typeset edition of the 'travel book' that enjoyed immense success and influenced German Romanticism, especially romantic irony, Nietzsche and James Joyce. Sterne had carried Rabelais' bewilderingly countercultural torch into the 18th century. 'Sterne is generally acknowledged as an innovator of the highest originality, and has been seen as the chief begetter of a long line of writers interested in the 'stream-of-consciousness' (Drabble, 937). Nietzsche praised him 'How, in a book for free spirits, should there be no mention of Laurence Sterne, whom Goethe honoured as the most liberated spirit of his century! Let us content ourselves here simply with calling him the most liberated spirit of all time, in comparison with whom all others seem stiff, square, intolerant and boorishly direct' (Human, All Too Human, 1968, p. 238). In typical Sternean fashion neither the author nor Yorick travelled in Italy, only France, in total defiance of the title.