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Barry Lyndon (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

William Makepeace Thackeray , Andrew Sanders
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Barry Lyndon (Oxford World's Classics) Barry Lyndon (Oxford World's Classics) 4.1 out of 5 stars (9)
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Book Description

22 April 1999 Oxford World's Classics
First published in 1844, this is Thackeray's earliest substantial work of fiction and perhaps his most original. The text is that of Saintbury's 1908 Oxford edition which incorporates Thackeray's revisions.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (22 April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192836285
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192836281
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,478,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Thackeray, an only child, was born in Calcutta. He studied at Cambridge, but, never a keen student, he left the University in 1830 to travel the continent. He began to study law but gave it up and squandered much of his inheritance on gambling and poor investments. He studied art in Paris, but he did not pursue that professionally either, except to illustrate his own novels.He was a successful novelist, earning the adulation of the very people he satirized. His death at 53 was unexpected. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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SINCE the days of Adam, there has been hardly a mischief done in this world but a woman has been at the bottom of it. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Barry Lyndon, the not so lovable rogue 11 Jun 2009
Following in the footsteps of Fielding and Smollett, William Thackeray attempts to relate the tale of a lovable rogue, Redmond Barry, in the picaresque style. Narrated in the first person, distinctly unlovable Barry is the classic `unreliable narrator'. Born into insignificant Irish gentry the vain, narcissistic and self-deluding Barry is forced to flee from his native Ireland at the age of fifteen after apparently killing a man in a duel. First joining the British army and then pressed into the Prussian army during the Seven Years War he fights a few battles, deserts and then travels around Europe hobnobbing with the imbecilic European aristocracy and passing his time womanising, gambling and amassing a fortune. He finally returns to Ireland, cons and marries a rich widow and becomes Barry Lyndon. His downfall, when it comes, is not only inevitable but welcome because, rumbustious fun as the novel undoubtedly is, the incessant boasting and name-dropping eventually become somewhat tiresome.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel without a hero. 29 Mar 2002
By A Customer
Like De Foe, Thackeray recorded the "autobiography" of his hero, Barry Lyndon, Irish adventurer, originally Barry Redmond, who became a chance soldier in the British and Prussian armies during the Seven Years War (1756-1763). After his adventures as a soldier and a spy, he becomes a professional gambler and faithful companion of the Chevalier de Balibari. Together they cheat the most famous courts of Europe with their "skill" at cards and build up a substantial fortune to add to their fame. The gambler gives up his days of adventure-seeking after conveniently "falling in love" with the Countess of Lyndon just after her extremely wealthy husband dies. His downfall comes soon after.
Highly recommended for the historical novel lover.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars masterclass in irony 31 Aug 2011
By Graham R. Hill VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an extremely entertaining and well written book in which the narrator's unreliability is skilfully and amusingly revealed as he recounts his adventures in eighteenth century Europe; the influences of which are clear in a number of later works. Thackeray himself re-employs many tropes in his later novels (the rise through society of a penniless chancer, the man-of-the-world uncle) that first turned up in the richly sardonic 'memoir' of Redmond Barry. And, more recently, the structure and tone of this novel must surely have been an influence on George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman series.

Look out also for an amusing and contemporarily relevant passage in which Thackeray denounces those who work in the City of London as 'gamesters'.
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"Vanity Fair" has long been one of my favourite books, but I was put off reading "Barry Lyndon" by the poor reception accorded the Kubrick film in the seventies. However, having recently read several other Thackeray books I thought it was time to give this one a go. I found it pretty good - probably his second best.

Nevertheless I couldn't understand why Kubrick filmed it. Surely the best way to dramatise Barry Lyndon would be a radio play? So I checked out the film on Wikipedia. It turns out that critical views have changed over four decades, and it is now highly regarded, so I suppose I ought to watch it. And he didn't dramatise the book, he borrowed the story and made his own film - a tragedy rather than a comedy.

For the uninitiated, "Barry Lyndon" is a bit like "Tom Jones" but with a deliberately created violent, thieving bully for a "hero".
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5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect rogue 21 Jun 2013
By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I once wrote a paper on 'the picaresque novel' in American literature, and somehow at the time this marvellous book must have escaped my attention as an immaculate example of the genre. Barry Lyndon (aka Redmond Barry, Captain Barry, Barry of Barryogue, Redmond de Balibari) is a fascinating character. It is strange actually, how absorbed one quickly becomes in his autobiography, taking into account that he is actually an almost a-moral and definitely unreliable person: women are there to be used, men to be cheated, and I'd wager that Barry would happily take a child's pocket money if he was in need of some small change. And yet, does not the nobility happily welcome him into their circle when he's rich, and gladly play cards with him, and then forget to honour their IOU's should they happen to lose?

As such this splendid book, as unreliable a narrator as Barry Lyndon may be (and surely is), is not just the chronicle of a virtuoso swindler, but also holds up a mirror to society, and when Barry says near the end of the book 'at least, if I did and said what I liked, was not so bad as many a canting scoundrel I know of who covers his foibles and sins, unsuspected, with a ask of holiness', it seems hard to disagree with him on that point.

I vaguely recall having seen in a distant past the movie (with Ryan O'Neal, was it?) but that didn't really make an impression. Not so with the book! As always, or so it seems, the book is so much better than the movie.
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