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. He is a hot-tempered, passionate lad, and falls madly in love with his cousin, Nora. The lad tries to engage in a duel with Nora's suitor, an English officer named John Quinn. He is made to think that he has assassinated the man, though the pistols were actually loaded with dummy loads. Redmond flees to Dublin, where he quickly falls in with bad company in the way of con artists, and soon loses all his money. He goes on to experience a series of military adventures eventually descending into decadence. Redmond eventually bullies and seduces the Countess of Lyndon to marry him. Eventually Barry Lyndon is separated from his wife, and lodged in Fleet Prison. He spends the last nineteen years of his life in prison, dying of alcoholism-related illness.
"I do not say there is no character as well drawn in Shakespeare [as D'Artagnan]. I do say there is none that I love so wholly." --Robert Louis Stevenson
"The lasting and universal popularity of The Three Musketeers shows that Dumas, by artlessly expressing his own nature in the persons of his heroes, was responding to that craving for action, strength and generosity which is a fact in all periods and all places." --Andreé Maurois
A marvelous, incisive social satire that gleefully exposes the greed and corruption raging in England during the turmoil of the Napoleonic wars through its tracing of the changing fortunes of two unforgettable women. It is a comic masterpiece that still resonates today.
"Re-reading Vanity Fair, one realises what a brilliant innovation this was in the English novel," remarked V. S. Pritchett. "Thackeray is like the modern novelists who derive from James and Proust, in his power of dissecting (and of desiccating!) character."
Generally considered to be his masterpiece, Vanity Fair is Thackeray's resplendent social satire that exposes the greed and corruption raging in England during the turmoil of the Napoleonic wars. Subtitled "A Novel Without a Hero," it traces the changing fortunes of two unforgettable women: the scheming opportunist Becky Sharp—one of literature's most resourceful, engaging, and amoral heroines—and her foil, the faithful, naive Amelia Sedley. Thackeray's subversive, comic attack on the hypocrisy and "dismal roguery" of an avaricious world resonates 150 years later with implications for our own times.
"Thackeray is an urbane nineteenth-century guide and commentator in a portrait gallery that is for all time," observed Louis Auchincloss. "He is the restless inhabitant of a prudish age, nostalgic, discursive, anecdotal, sentimental, worldly-wise, now warning us, now making fun of us, now reproving us .... Thackeray's harshest criticism of humanity is simply the point where ours commences. His perception of self-interest in every act is the ABC of modem psychology."
The Rose and The Ring is a satirical work of fantasy fiction written by William Makepeace Thackeray, originally published at Christmas 1854 (though dated 1855). It criticises, to some extent, the attitudes of the monarchy and those at the top of society and challenges their ideals of beauty and marriage.
Set in the fictional countries of Paflagonia and Crim Tartary, the story revolves around the lives and fortunes of four young royal cousins, Princesses Angelica and Rosalba, and Princes Bulbo and Giglio. Each page is headed by a line of poetry summing up the plot at that point and the storyline as a whole is laid out, as the book states,
On the 18th day of April last I went to see a friend in a neighboring Crescent, and on the steps of the next house beheld a group something like that here depicted. A newsboy had stopped in his walk, and was reading aloud the journal which it was his duty to deliver; a pretty orange-girl, with a heap of blazing fruit, rendered more brilliant by one of those great blue papers in which oranges are now artfully wrapped, leant over the railing and listened; and opposite the nympham discentem there was a capering and acute-eared young satirist of a crossing-sweeper, who had left his neighboring professional avocation and chance of profit, in order to listen to the tale of the little newsboy.
That intelligent reader, with his hand following the line as he read it out to his audience, was saying:—"And—now—Tom—coming up smiling—after his fall—dee—delivered a rattling clinker upon the Benicia Boy's—potato-trap—but was met by a—punisher on the nose—which," &c. &c.; or words to that effect. Betty at 52 let me in, while the boy was reading his lecture and, having been some twenty minutes or so in the house and paid my visit, I took leave.
The little lecturer was still at work on the 51 doorstep, and his audience had scarcely changed their position. Having read every word of the battle myself in the morning, I did not stay to listen further; but if the gentleman who expected his paper at the usual hour that day experienced delay and a little disappointment I shall not be surprised.
I am not going to expatiate on the battle. I have read in the correspondent's letter of a Northern newspaper, that in the midst of the company assembled the reader's humble servant was present, and in a very polite society, too, of "poets, clergymen, men of letters, and members of both Houses of Parliament." If so, I must have walked to the station in my sleep, paid three guineas in a profound fit of mental abstraction, and returned to bed unconscious, for I certainly woke there about the time when history relates that the fight was over. I do not know whose colors I wore—the Benician's, or those of the Irish champion; nor remember where the fight took place, which, indeed, no somnambulist is bound to recollect. Ought Mr. Sayers to be honored for being brave, or punished for being naughty? By the shade of Brutus the elder, I don't know....
Subtitled "a novel without a hero," Vanity Fair offers an acidly satirical romp across all levels of English society during the Napoleonic wars. William Thackeray focuses on how the war affects people other than soldiers, the typical heroes. All of his characters are deeply flawed, from social climber Becky Sharp and sweet Amelia Sedley to caddish George Osborne and loyal William Dobbin. Becky, liar and hypocrite, takes center stage as one of literature's great female protagonists. Penniless, armed with only her beauty, charm, and cunning, she claws her way forward by practicing the corrupt principles of her world. Becky seduces her enemies and betrays friends with a charismatic energy that has captivated generations of readers. Regarded as Thackeray's best novel and masterpiece, Vanity Fair was published in serial form in 1847–48 in Punch and established the author's literary reputation as well as his social status and financial security. Critic A. E. Dyson acclaimed it as "one of the world's most devious novels, devious in its characterization, its irony, its explicit moralizing, its exuberance, its tone. Few novels demand more continuing alertness from the reader, or offer more intellectual and moral stimulation in return."
he story of Henry Esmond, a colonel in the service of Queen Anne of England, begins in his youth, as the illegitimate and orphaned cousin of the Viscount and Lady of Castlewood. The Jacobite family gradually embraces Henry as one of their own. When Henry comes of age he joins the campaign to restore James Stuart to the throne, but is eventually forced to accept the Protestant future of England.
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