Monday 25 April 2022

Book Review: Barry Lyndon by Thackeray (Classics)

Title: Barry Lyndon
Author: Thackeray
Publisher: Oxford World Classics
Publication Date: 2008 (1844)
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Genre: Classics
Source: Gift

Set in the second half of the eighteenth century, Barry Lyndon is the fictional autobiography of an adventurer and rogue whom the reader is led to distrust from the very beginning. Born into the petty Irish gentry, and outmanoeuvred in his first love-affair, a ruined Barry joins the British army. After service in Germany he deserts and, after a brief spell as a spy, pursues the career of a gambler in the dissolute clubs and courts of Europe. In a determined effort to enter fashionable society he marries a titled heiress but finds he has met his match. First published in 1844, Barry Lyndon is Thackeray's earliest substantial novel and in some ways his most original, reflecting his views of the true art of fiction: to represent a subject, however unpleasant, with accuracy and wit, and not to moralize.


Barry Lyndon was an entertaining read. Yes, its 'hero' is unlikable on many levels, but it was still amusing to follow his exploits until he finally got his comeuppance.There were moments when the pacing plodded a little, but if you pushed through those, more humour soon came up. However, I think this is one of the rare cases where I will say the film was better than the book. The film lacked some of the humour of the text, but the story on the screen was far more energised overall. If you are new to Thackeray, I would suggest starting with Vanity Fair, but for those who've already read that more famous tale, Barry Lyndon is worth a read. It gets 4 stars from me.

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