Laurence Sterne's, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, is a lengthy novel filled with essayistic passages and seemingly unrelated events. The novel has a self-proclaimed digressive-progressive style, which is continuously defended by the novels author/protagonist Tristram.
This progressive/digressive style can be easily seen throughout the entire novel; Tristram often moves from the events of his actual story to other events, which seem to have no significance or relevance. Tristram, being the author of his own life story, frequently offers his own opinions as to the happenings and follies of other characters. Tristram also constantly illustrates his authority by refusing to tell his tale in chronological order. By fracturing the sequence of the stories he tells and interjecting them with chains of associated ideas, memories, and anecdotes, Tristram allows thematic significance to emerge out of surprising juxtapositions between seemingly unrelated events. Tristram dotes on these aforementioned elements; "These unforeseen stoppages, which I own I had no conception of when I first set out;--but which, I am convinced now, will rather increase than diminish as I advance,--have struck out a hint which I am resolved to follow; --and that is,---not to be in a hurry;---but to go on leisurely, writing and publishing two volumes of my life every year- (Sterne 35).
Sterne cleverly separates himself from Tristram, in the narrative, by occasionally questioning Tristram's actions and opinions; thus, the title of the novel accurately represents it's content; the opinions of Tristram Shandy. .
Jane Austen's, Emma, contains events and characteristics typical of the English novel: entangled personal relations and marriage market and social class happenings. But, one main theme, in the scripting of the novel, is the blinding of objective judgment by personal desires, lust and prejudice.