Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Barry Lyndon's demise!

So I finished rereading Barry Lyndon; I'd restarted it dozens of time but this is only my second time finishing it in completion.  Thackeray also struggled to finish (writing) it, and considered it one of his worst novels.  He told his daughter not to read it and that she wouldn't like.  It's certainly his most racy novel and the anti-hero/narrator makes Becky Sharp look like Donna Reed! But it's really fascinating in what it says about international relations. Barry is Irish, but as his parents spent several years in England, his mom demands the Irish countryside refer to her as the "English Widow" and her son as "English Redmond."

Much later in the novel, when he deserts the English army in Germany, he's kidnapped and forced into "white slavery," aka the Prussian Army, which my dad informed me actually wasn't all that uncommon in the 18th century.  What struck a chord with me was the variety of fellow-kidnappees he met, a genius Englishman, a forlorn Italian, Germans, French, Spanish, etc., all equalized and joined together by their awful fates.  Much of the novel seems to suggest this cosmopolitan society among various scenes in Europe and I think will make for great material for CH 1 and other portions of the dissertation.

Tonight I plan to type up my notes (highlighted portions) of the novel and reread a great article on Barry Lyndon and captivity and how it comments on Irish/English relations.  Will share that wisdom tomorrow!

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