206. BARRY LYNDON . WILLIAM MAKEPAEACE THACKERAY
WILLIAM MAKEPAEACE THACKERAY
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‘Barry Lyndon’ or ‘The Luck of Barry Lyndon’ is a picaresque novel by William Makepeace Thackeray , about a member of the Irish gentry trying to become a member of the English aristocracy.
Redmond Barry of Bally Barry, born to a genteel but ruined Irish family, fancies himself a gentleman. At the prompting of his mother, he learns what he can of courtly manners and swordplay, but fails at more scholarly subjects like Latin. He is a hot-tempered, passionate lad, and falls madly in love with his cousin, Nora. Sadly, as she is a spinster a few years older than Redmond, she is seeking a prospect with more ready cash to pay family debts.
The lad tries to engage in a duel with Nora’s suitor, an English officer named John Quin. He is made to think that he has assassinated the man, though his pistol was actually loaded with tow, a dummy load of heavy, knotted, fibres. Quin, struck with the harmless load, fainted in fright.
Redmond flees to Dublin, where he quickly falls in with bad company in the way of con artists, and soon loses all his money. Pursued by creditors, he enlists as a common private in a Royal Army infantry regiment headed for service in Germany during the Seven Years’ War.
Once in Germany, despite a promotion to corporal, he hates the army and seeks to desert. When his lieutenant is wounded, Redmond helps take him to a German village for treatment. The Irishman pretends to suffer from insanity, and after several days absconds with the Lieutenant’s uniform, papers, and money. As part of his ruse, he convinces the locals that he is the real Lieutenant Fakenham, and the wounded man is the mad Corporal Barry. Redmond Barry rides off toward a neutral German territory, hoping for better fortune.
His bad luck continues, though, …..