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Barry Lyndon, the not so lovable rogue
on 11 June 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.