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'Barry Lyndon' by W M Thackeray

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writerinthenorth
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'Barry Lyndon' by W M Thackeray

Post by writerinthenorth » Thu September 6th, 2012, 3:38 pm

This satire of manners is narrated by the eponymous 'hero', though only he gives himself that epithet. Barry Lyndon is possibly the most unreliable narrator in English literature, and there is a great deal of entertainment to be had in contrasting his version of characters and events with the truth that peeps out through the pages. It is good fun to be shown aspects of eighteenth century high society with all its hypocrisy and foibles in the company of a (largely) lovable scoundrel, though his relentless boasting does occasionally become tedious. I learned a lot about fashionable society and its dirty linen, laughed a lot at Lyndon's cock-eyed self-image (as delusive as Don Quixote's), and even felt a tinge of sadness at his demise, however deserved.

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sweetpotatoboy
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Post by sweetpotatoboy » Thu September 6th, 2012, 4:06 pm

Not read this one by Thackeray, but his "The History of Henry Esmond" is one of my favourite historical novels as is its sequel.
Must try this one too!

annis
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Post by annis » Thu September 6th, 2012, 7:47 pm

The fascinating thing about Thckeray's Barry Lyndon is that it was based on the true story of Anglo-Irish adventurer, Andrew Robinson Stoney, who married and mistreated the English heiress, Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne.

The movie -also titled Barry Lyndon - is a wonderful evocation of the 18th century period, but (be warned) quite slow-moving and very,very long! I sat through the bottom-numbing original when it was first released, but happily now you can watch it on DVD and break it up a bit :)

writerinthenorth
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Post by writerinthenorth » Fri September 7th, 2012, 10:12 am

Oh, I hadn't known about the Stoney connection - thanks for that. Of Thackeray's other novels, it may seem too obvious to mention but 'Vanity Fair' is one of the best books of all time.

writerinthenorth
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Post by writerinthenorth » Fri September 7th, 2012, 10:22 am

I've just read the Andrew Robinson Stoney biography on Wikipedia. Goodness, Barry Lyndon seems almost saint-like in comparison! And to think he was MP for my neighbourhood city Newcastle upon Tyne. Perhaps the North East's biggest disgrace (unless you count Sid the Sexist from 'Viz').

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