New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1853. First Edition. Cloth. 2 vols. 1st edition, preceding the London edition by 3 years. Publisher’s brown cloth, a scarce deluxe binding, the sheets 3/8” taller than on the binding in boards, wear to spine tips, a 7/8” chip to vol. II mended, else a good set. Good. Item #287
Thackeray spins a darkly plotted coming of age novel, a picaresque satire that’s harder than braided steel and more athletic than a verb. Barry is a lucky rogue, a grifter and gambler, handsome and fearless, yet fatally flawed. He benefits from the most favorable of circumstances, but is ultimately overcome, because he burdens his good fortune, with more personal baggage than Mariah Carey on safari. Thackeray’s minor theme is that the chief advantage of being born into society is that one can see what a tawdry public play it is. Thackeray’s major theme is that villainy is revealed through self–justification. Narrated by the title character himself, chapter I opens with the line, “Since the days of Adam, there has been hardly a mischief done in this world but a woman is at the bottom of it” and that’s only the first of many rationalizations, portending a fatal version of hubris. And Stanley Kubrick made quite a movie, well worth the investment of 3 hours and 23 minutes, so you can reside at the apex of cinema.