Sexuality/Textuality in Tristram Shandy
Author(s): Dennis W. Allen
Source: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, Vol. 25, No. 3, Restoration and Eighteenth
Century (Summer, 1985), pp. 651-670
Published by: Rice University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/450501 .
Accessed: 16/12/2012 06:30
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JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and…show more content… 100), both of which allow man to perceive "the eternal measures of right and wrong" (p. 102). The sermon's epistemology is firmly grounded in the existence of both God and a set of eternal verities, and the dictates of both can be determined by examining the revealed word of the Bible or the internal voice of reason; the two are compatible.
Such an epistemology assumes the stability of language. Even if word and thing are not identical, they are intrinsically linked, revealing a unity of signifier and signified.2 Language, whether in the form of the interior speech of reason or transcribed into the written symbols of the word of God which constitute the Bible, can adequately convey eternal truths. By extension, even language not used to discuss Truth is stable; even the words which signify abstractions have a precise, if not always easily restateable, signified. Thus Tristram can assert, as he begins to recount Uncle
Toby's amours, that he is not obliged to give a definition of love but can simply proceed "with the help of the word itself, without any other idea to it, than what I have in common with rest of the world"