Read Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray Free Online
Book Title: Barry Lyndon|
The author of the book: William Makepeace Thackeray
ISBN 13: 9781592246977
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 7.65 MB
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Reader ratings: 6.8
Edition: Wildside Press
Date of issue: March 1st 2003
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Had someone asked me last week to name them a film better than the book, off the top of my head I couldn't give a definitive answer. If the same question popped up today, my immediate response would be, Stanley Kubrick's 'Barry Lyndon'. A film I adore so much it even had me playing the Film's beautiful music softy in the background whilst reading Thackeray's novel, hoping it would start to dazzle the book. It didn't. That's not to say there wasn't much to enjoy about the Irish rogue's escapades around 18th Century Europe, but it just never reached the heights I thought it would. Thackeray spent ten gruelling years as a journalist covering burlesques, travel-articles, short-stories, as well as being a critic on books and pictures. His early promise came in the fashion of serial publications. Barry Lyndon (1844), opened up his golden decadence of the successful novel.
Written as an 18th century pastiche, the work draws a portrait of a dashing schemer who is a liar, a boaster, a self-flatterer, and womanizer, in other words, an arrogant toerag. He plans to enter Europe's social elite with the hope of gaining access to huge wealth through the love of a woman. In this case, her Ladyship, the Countess Honoria of Lyndon. A melancholy sort, who also has a son, Lord Bullingdon. It all starts off for Redmond Barry in Ireland, he narrates through his adventures, first falling foul of Captain Quin because of Nora Brady (who Barry happens to love). There is a duel, which he wins, but has to flee for his own good. He ends up joining the Army, and after deserting at the time of the seven years war, manages to establish himself as a man of fashion, worth and snobbery, and also a professional gambler, touring the courts and spas of Europe with The Chevalier du Balibari, who happens to be his uncle. This would eventually lead him into the arms of Countess Lyndon, safe to say she is filthy rich and highly important. Redmond takes the title of 'Barry Lyndon' after marriage.
He finds the code of respectability a protective shield under which he can violate with impunity every social decency, but this can only last so long, before virtue finally outwits him. Thackeray's sense of irony restrains his novel drifting into sentimental excess, and mixes scoundrels with the elite to good effect. Barry, like most of Thackeray's characters succumbs to the code of respectability. In rejecting all the stereotypes of heroism through which the novelist evaded his responsibility to give what he called 'the sentiment of reality', he explores married life deconstructing the convention of the literature of his times, that is, the obligatory plot in which marriage is very emphatically enshrined as the happy ending. As an ironic inversion of the romantic nonsense of his time, the astringent view of marriage signals the real origins of Thackeray's novels.
There is no virtue in Barry Lyndon, but he is allowed some capacity for what we may call genuiness when he feels the pains of nostalgia, affections, paternal love, and the hostility of war. The film contained a most heart-breaking scene involving Barry's young son, the emotions of moments like this just never felt as true in the book. Although when there is sorrow, it isn't pretended, Barry recounts the death of his son, making him appear less simple than first thought. The result of such oscillation between sympathy and impartiality, sentiment and cynicism, is that he dramatises the business of judging the characters while not encouraging the reader in their black-and-white views on morals. Maybe one of the reasons why he was undervalued by posterity in relation to Charles Dickens, his chief Victorian rival.
The problem I had was Kubrick's film streaming constantly through my mind. And the book does differ from the film in places, upsetting my rhythm. It's a decent novel on rogues and aristocracy, a bit boring at times, but captures the setting and time solid enough. Still prefer the film though, by some considerable distance.
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Read information about the authorThackeray, an only child, was born in Calcutta, India, where his father, Richmond Thackeray (1 September 1781 – 13 September 1815), held the high rank of secretary to the board of revenue in the British East India Company. His mother, Anne Becher (1792–1864) was the second daughter of Harriet and John Harman Becher and was also a secretary (writer) for the East India Company.
William had been sent to England earlier, at the age of five, with a short stopover at St. Helena where the imprisoned Napoleon was pointed out to him. He was educated at schools in Southampton and Chiswick and then at Charterhouse School.
See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_...
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