The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq

The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq

The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq

The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

The Irish, Thackeray once noted, 'are a nation of liars'. This prejudice which was to inspire and shape Barry Lyndon was not, however, based on animosity, antipathy or superiority: Thackeray claimed to feel at home with the Irish character and to know the Irish thoroughly. 'The best friend I ever had in the world', he told David Masson (a Scot) '. . . the nicest and most delightful fellow I ever knew in the world . . . was an Irishman. But, d'ye know he was a great rascal.' in 1855 the former 'Young Irelander', Charles Gavan Duffy, was introduced to the novelist by Thomas Carlyle and found him guardedly sympathetic to Irish nationalism. When Duffy went on to praise 'the accuracy, or rather the fitness, of the Irish names of men and places in Barry Lyndon', Thackeray responded that he had 'lived a good deal among Irish people in London and elsewhere'. Nevertheless, his distrust of everything he heard from an Irishman, and a good deal of what he had seen for himself in Ireland in the 1830s and 1840s, was ideally to suit his fictional purposes when he came to compose Barry Lyndon, his first substantial work of fiction, in October 1843. the idea of taking an autobiographical narrator, whom readers are led to distrust from the very beginning, clearly appealed to him. It also signals the real originality of the novel. Some fifty years later an Irish writer was to shock many readers by noting: 'A short primer, "When to Lie and How", if brought out in an attractive and not too expensive a form, would no doubt command a large sale, and would prove of real practical service to many earnest and deep-thinking people . . . the only form of lying that is absolutely beyond reproach is lying for its own sake, and the highest development of this is . . . Lying in Art.'

Oscar Wilde's awareness that 'the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art' has proved prophetic of much twentieth-century aesthetic and critical theory. Though he used different aesthetic terminology, it was an . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.