Earlier this month I read William Thackeray's great classic, Vanity Fair. Upon completing it I wanted to read another of his works. I recalled back some thirty five years ago when I saw the 1975 Stanley Kubrick movie based on Thackeray's Memoirs of Barry Lyndon. I still remember how beautiful the movie was, the wonderful costumes, and presentation of 18th century life. I was not really eager to read another 1000 page novel right now and Barry Lyndon is under 400 pages so I decided to give it a try. I ended up totally enjoying it.
I liked that it was partially set in Ireland. The novel is narrated, with a few intrusions by the fictional editor of the memoirs, by Barry Lyndon. He tells a tale a brilliant mixture of sharp insight and self-delusion. We see him go from being captured to fight in the German army to being considered, at least by himself, one of the great men of European society. Gambling plays a big part in his life. He is a feared duelist with the sword or pistol. A great lover, or so he tells us, first driven from Ireland when he falsely thinks he killed a romantic rival in a duel over a woman. The book was initially serialized so something exciting happens in almost every chapter.
Barry Lyndon is exciting with nonstop action. Barry is convinced he is entitled to great riches and is wronged by everyone but perhaps his Irish mother. I did not end up liking Barry but maybe i felt a bit sorry for him.
By all means first read Vanity Fair but lovers of the Victorian novel, especially picturesque adventures, should consider putting Barry Lyndon on their one of these days maybe list.