Finally! A classic book that is actually worth its reading time. If you’ve found that the classics that one reads, either because of reputation or requirement are kinda let-downs, Barry Lyndon is a book to break the cycle.
It’s not as well-known as Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, but that’s the beauty of it. Its plot, characters and themes are not as widely known. I feel that makes for a more enjoyable read. I liken it to seeing a movie for which one has not seen a preview, read a review, nor heard “all the good parts” from a friend’s recommendation. In other words, one can read this book starting “cold”. I feel that’s the best starting point for books (and movies, for that matter).
Speaking of movies, Barry Lyndon does have the distinction of being a book translated to film by Stanley Kubrick. That is a masterful film that stands on its own, having taken the framework and select themes and plot points from Thackeray. However, there is a great deal of difference between the two works. Even after multiple viewings of the film, readers will still find surprises and situations that are excluded from Kubrick’s version.
For readers who are interested in classical literature, but are looking for works that aren’t on the shelves of subscribers to Book-of-the-Month Club “must-haves”, or Time Life Classics in faux-leather decorative bindings, I recommend Barry Lyndon (even without the low-low public domain Kindle price of: free).