Shandy Hall Trip – 4 March

We started by looking at a full-stop
We started by looking at a full-stop

On Friday 4 March a group of third-year undergraduate Creative Writing students set out in freezing rain in search of Shandy Hall in Coxwold, where Laurence Sterne wrote the majority of his novel Tristram Shandy.

From the moment we arrived we knew we were in topsy-turvy Shandy Land, where nothing is quite right. We started by looking at a full-stop. The wonderful, digressive curator of Shandy Hall, Patrick Wildgust, began by showing us the full-stop that appears at the end of the first edition of Tristram Shandy, magnified and turned into a work of art by Scott Myles.

In the chapel we saw sacrificial glass and stones that speak.

A stone that speaks, in the chapel. 'STERNE was THE MAN, who with gigantic stride mow'd down luxuriant follies'
A stone that speaks, in the chapel. ‘STERNE was THE MAN, who with gigantic stride mow’d down luxuriant follies’

Back in the hall we measured out an hour in grains of sand. We took books that took books to pieces to pieces.

Taking books that take books to pieces to pieces at Shandy Hall
Taking books that take books to pieces to pieces at Shandy Hall

So of course we learned that a full-stop is not really what it appears. There is never a full stop or end to narrative. Look at it closely, magnify it a hundred, thousand, million-fold and a full-stop seeps into the paper with valleys and channels, black holes and highlights. It is not a stop at all, but just another messy mark on a page out of which we try to make meaning; in which we swear we can decipher the head of King George III in silhouette.

The full-stop launches us into new narratives, fresh meanings. So watch this space for our creative responses to the topsy-turvy world of Shandy Hall…

 

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