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European Languages and Societies Commons

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2016

Faculty Publications

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Orna Me: Laurence Sterne’S Open Letter To Literary History, Celia B. Barnes Jan 2016

Orna Me: Laurence Sterne’S Open Letter To Literary History, Celia B. Barnes

Faculty Publications

This essay considers the curious way Laurence Sterne communicates with and reflects on his literary predecessors, most often Alexander Pope, by writing love letters to women. Focusing primarily on his correspondence with Elizabeth Draper, Barnes contends that, even as Sterne looks back to Pope to guarantee himself a place in literary history, he looks forward to women like Draper to ensure his name will survive. Thus, erotic correspondence becomes an important way of ensuring Sterne’s literary estate, or as he terms it, his “futurity.” “Orna Me”—a phrase that means, roughly, “ornament me” or “set me off,” and that ...