1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7


Each time I walk through that study door, it becomes more familiar. A place I've often been before, and yet it is only today. It will always and only be today. I must wash my mind out with that soap now, too bad I found it such a distasteful task before. But now that I have read the novel, how can I forget what the winding of a clock means to a love starved woman? How can I undo these thoughts, take back the definitions or the references? Sterne's grin slinks over and sinks into the Universal Dictionary (and supplements). I would follow him, but time has made these books far too valuable.

The clock has chimed half past four. I must count now, I have lost the luxury of refusing to count. If I can't tell you the story now, then it will remain untold, and lost. And I fully understand Sterne's difficulties in finishing the chapter. It is as if the very walls are holding their breath, waiting to hear what has happened to the black currents, waiting to replace my misplaced memories. I dare not rise for another cup of tea. I dare not rise for anything. There is no chamber pot. I will keep my seat here sir. And you sir, may keep your thoughts to yourself. I will not raise the window for you, Mr. Sterne, but I can well believe that nothing is well hung in this study, not even this tale.

For a Shandean can never tell a story straight, we leave too much out of it. When Shandy's father winds the clock on the first Sunday of the month, he performs his duty and gives his wife the opportunity to conceive. Tristram explains to the gentle reader why he could not have been born earlier, because his father was laid up with a sciatica and could not wind the clock nor mind the time nor begin a being. But how then, was the clock kept wound? Even the contemporary readers pinpointed the affair:

"The author ought to have told the reader who wound it up in his stead." (The clockmakers outcry against the author of the Life and opinions of Tristram Shandy. Dedicated to the nost humble if christian prelates: art thou a priest according to the order of Melchisedech, London: J. Burd, near the Temple Gate,Fleet Street MDCCLX, p. 19.)

(But here the voices merge, on speculation. For "Anne Bandry and Geoffrey Day have recently floated the extremely intriguing speculation that, on the analogy of Pope's Key to the Lock, the Clockmakers Outcry is in fact by Sterne himself. Not all experts accept this." Book seller's slip, marking the price of this slim volume at 1,000 pounds, undated.) The voices in this study come streaming out of their worn and dusty covers, their string bindings coming a little more undone with each passing season. Do not forget this. Do not attempt to penetrate the morals behind our marbled pages. We were once strident, we will not remain silent in our covers, in this coveted room. We will rise again.

I am engaged in a desperate dialogue, and mine is the only voice that I can truly hear. Who is writing these words? Will the experts confer and leave their verdict of writings by person or persons unknown?

I have lost my voice.