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Novel Black Pages — 260 years of The Life and Opinion of Tristram Shandy

“This is the mapping of interference.
Mistakes of the publishing process begin to read as stars, galaxies and nebulae.”

The Secret Astronomy of Tristram Shandy
Abra Ancliffe
Portland: Abra Ancliffe, 2015
N7433.3 A53 S43 2015

From the artist’s statement: “The Secret Astronomy of Tristram Shandy reproduces over one hundred, self-reflexive black pages from multiple, paperback editions and copies of Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. When taken out of context and accumulated, these once playful, visual metaphors reveal the printing inconsistencies of ink on paper (varying density, hickeys, oxidation spots, and fingerprints). The hidden nature of the page, that which was unread, can now be read. In this case, astronomical imagery is revealed; that of the stars speckled across an inky blackness or the soft haze and ripple of a galaxy.

“Matter, mater, mother”

Since the 1760’s, readers, printers and publishers have been forced to grapple with the black pages of Sterne’s novel; this struggle with discovery, meaning, and craft is at the heart of The Secret Astronomy of Tristram Shandy. A constellation of writing, poetry, and research around the nodes of Bodies, Blackness, Objects, Space, and Astericks accompany the black page astronomies.

“The book is a telescope”

Digitally-printed, perfect-bound. Edition of one hundred copies, unnumbered.

“My father had not got but a few yards when he spied several stones together in a flag heap by the side of the track, slipped one against the other, and still clouded and foggy from the damp of the morning ground where they had so lately lain.”

CHAP. XXIVCraig DworkinSalt Lake City, UT: Red Butte Press, 2013N7433.4 D95 C43 2010z

“Nature had been prodigal in her gifts to my father beyond measure, and had sown the seeds of verbal criticism as deep within him, as she had done the seeds of all other knowledge, — so that he had got out his penknife, and was trying experiments upon the sentence, to see if he could not scratch some better sense into it.”

The and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Laurence Sterne (1713-1768)
San Francisco: Arion Press, 1988
Z232.5 A7 S775 1988

From the colophon: “Text…set from the critical edition of the novel edited by Melvin and Joan New, published by the University of Florida Press. Professor New also contributed his scholarship on Sterne to this edition and was its textual advisor. The type is Caslon Old Style, the face used for the first printings of Tristram Shandy…This is the twenty-sixth publication of the Arion Press.” Issued in a box with photo-collages with quotations from the novel by John Baldesari. Edition of four hundred copies.

“By which it appears, that except at the curve, marked A, where I took a trip to Navarre, — and the indented curve B, which is the short airing when I was there with the Lady Baussiere and her page, — I have not taken the least frisk of a digression, till John de la Casse’s devils led me the round you see marked D. — for as for c c c c c they are nothing but parentheses, and the common ins and outs incident to the lives of the greatest ministers of state; and when compared with what men have done, — or with my own transgressions at the letters A B D — they vanish into nothing.”

“The Corporal had unwarily conjured up the Spirit of calculation with his wand; and he had nothing to do, but to conjure him down again with his own story, and in this form of Exorcism, most un-ecclesiastically did the Corporal do it.”

“The Corporal did not approve of the orders, but most cheerfully obey’d them. The first was not an act of his will — the second was; so he put on his Montero cap, and went as fast as his lame knee would let him”

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