The History of Henry Esmond

The History of Henry Esmond What spectacle is august than that of a great king in exile Who is worthy of respect than a brave man in misfortune When Henry Esmond appeared in noted writers and critics of the time acclaimed

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  • Title: The History of Henry Esmond
  • Author: William Makepeace Thackeray
  • ISBN: 9780140430493
  • Page: 224
  • Format: Paperback
  • What spectacle is august than that of a great king in exile Who is worthy of respect than a brave man in misfortune When Henry Esmond appeared in 1852, noted writers and critics of the time acclaimed it as the best historical novel ever written Set in the reign of Queen Anne, the story follows the troubled progress of a gentleman and an officer in Marlboro What spectacle is august than that of a great king in exile Who is worthy of respect than a brave man in misfortune When Henry Esmond appeared in 1852, noted writers and critics of the time acclaimed it as the best historical novel ever written Set in the reign of Queen Anne, the story follows the troubled progress of a gentleman and an officer in Marlborough s army, as he painfully wrestles with an emotional allegiance to the old Tory Catholic England until, disillusioned, he comes to terms of a kind with the Whiggish Protestant future This change also entails a very uncomfortable switch in his affections The love story of Henry Esmond is charged with sombre, unconscious emotions, yet is skilfully embedded into historical events which are convincing but never too prominent.

    One thought on “The History of Henry Esmond”

    1. I came to this book having already read and enjoyed both Vanity Fair and The History of Pendennis: His Fortunes & Misfortunes, His Friends & His Greatest Enemy by the same author and was therefore quite confident in my expectations. However, this was quite a different sort of novel, in that it represents an attempt by Thackeray to write a historical novel. We are first introduced to Henry Esmond, when he is but a child, in the final years of the reign of King James II. His own people are [...]

    2. Free download available at Project Gutenberg.Opening lines:The actors in the old tragedies, as we read, piped their iambics to a tune, speaking from under a mask, and wearing stilts and a great head-dress. 'Twas thought the dignity of the Tragic Muse required these appurtenances, and that she was not to move except to a measure and cadence. So Queen Medea slew her children to a slow music: and King Agamemnon perished in a dying fall (to use Mr. Dryden's words): the Chorus standing by in a set at [...]

    3. The cover image is not for the one I have, but I couldn't find it. This is a Bantam Classic from 1961. I read the very nice introduction last night.Read the preface last night. It's a letter from Henry's daughter which brings up some intriguing plot points sure to be covered later. The letter is written either during or right after the Am. Rev while the plot focuses on action 50 or so years earlierNALLY back to reading this after weeks of digression. Here we go So, I've "switched to this edition [...]

    4. I found The History of Henry Esmond to be a very challenging and difficult read. Ultimately, it became a frustrating read, and ended with (apologies to T.S. Eliot) a profound whimper and no bang at all.Perhaps it is because Thackeray's characters lack the presence of Dickens's creations, perhaps it is because Thackeray was unable, in my eyes, to create the intricate and incisive social commentary found in a Trollope novel. Perhaps it was that while one could sense the evolution, and even the fat [...]

    5. The History of Henry Esmond was widely considered the best historical novel of its day and often considered the best of Thackeray's novels as well; Trollope, who wrote a biography of his friend Thackeray, calls it his masterpiece. It's set just after the Glorious Revolution, during the reigns of William and Mary and then Queen Anne, and follows the life of Henry Esmond, gentleman and officer of the Duke of Marlborough's army, through his military career and his tangled family life.The novel begi [...]

    6. This is a rich, complex, but ultimately unsatisfying novel about a young man of principle making his way in the corrupt and luxurious world of the 1700's English aristocracy. Henry Esmond narrates the story of his own life, and the thing that sinks the novel is that he's always just a little too aware of his own virtue. He shows how venal, corrupt, and selfish all the other characters are, while refusing to admit he's secretly very impressed with his own demure Victorian primness. He's really Th [...]

    7. Published a decade before War & Peace, I can imagine that this historical novel could have been a model for Tolstoy's epic (maybe someone knows?). It's not quite as long but, although the battle scenes, focussed around Marlborough's campaigns and the War of the Spanish Succession, are fewer and less well realized, it has the massive advantage over W & P of believable, complex and unforgettable female characters. Structurally, there are flaws and problems: the mixture of real history and [...]

    8. Henry Esmond is a shitty, bitter dude and his ideas about women suck. This book took me 2 months to read and it was mostly a waste of time. Maybe you'll like this book if you really love Jacobite history and repetitive character building and subplots, but it's not for me. I loved Pendennis, but I'm over Thackeray after Henry Esmond for the following reasons: -Women are treated like absolute crap, in ways that are excessive even for this book's time. (& If Beatrix is such a bad person, why do [...]

    9. This narrative relates the life of the aristocratic-born Henry Esmond. As the 17th Century closes and the 18th dawns, Harry Esmond attends college, goes to jail and serves in the army. William Thackeray describes the demise of James II, reign of William and Mary and Queen Anne. Although he mentions a multitude of historical battles and incidents, pains are taken not to load (or bless) the reader with too much information. Much time and effort are spent in describing the escapades of the Duke of [...]

    10. my modern sense can't help but be squicked by the hero marrying his mother figure, no matter how much Victorian purity and submissiveness she'd attained, but if one sets that aside, it's interesting—especially when Esmond is away from the women. I always find historical novels written by people who are historical from my vantage quite fascinating; Thackeray gets deeply into custom of the late 1600s and early 1700s, making careless reference to habits that are remote to our time, unless one has [...]

    11. Told as a memior of Henry, the bastard son of the Third Viscount Castlewood. He is brought up by the family (mostly by the Fourth Viscount), lives with them, etc. The family have been King's Men since the time of Charles I when the title started, so when the Glorious Revolution comes and William and Mary step in and later the Georges begin there is a strain.Told in true Victorian style prose, the sentences curl around and twine themselves so badly in places that I had to reread several times to [...]

    12. It's not bad, but I have no trouble understanding why this novel is no longer in print. It loses a lot of its interest if you don't have any frame of reference for obscure literary figures of the 18th century or knowledge of 18th century British history. It turns out there was a whole war I'd never even heard of. I felt throughout more or less the way I would imagine Thackeray himself would feel if he watched Forrest Gump: You can tell the things that are going on are supposed to have some sort [...]

    13. After passing over finishing this book to read three other books, I think it may be time to give up the fight. The writing style was annoying. And Thackeray needed a better editor. He keeps repeating the same thing over and over. So far, it is just boring. I do still hope to finish it some day, but not now.

    14. There were good bits in this - the picture of a marriage going bad was done very well, I thought. But there was also a lot that was dull - particularly Esmond's experience in the War of the Spanish Succession, about which I knew nothing and now have no desire to know any more. All in all I think it went on too long.


    16. I liked Books 1 & 2. Unexpected humor had been snuck in here and there. Alas, I was forced for my sanity's sake to skip over parts of Book 3. This was no Vanity Fair.

    17. It’s fascinating to read an historical novel that is itself historic: Thackeray’s novel was written as long ago now as the events he treats were in his past. All the requisites of good historical fiction are there—a mixture of real and fictional characters, an approximation of an antiquated style (reminiscent of Fielding), an evocation of England as it was at the beginning of the 18th century, an era of political intrigue involving the complicated throne succession. And there is a well-con [...]

    18. Thackeray was one of Dickens' rivals the comparison isn't really fair, since Charles Dickens (being sui generis) has no rivals. Every Dickensian sentence is a shining jewel of the craft. "Henry Esmond", a fine book in every way, nevertheless does have some rough edges.The action takes place during the reign of Queen Anne, the last English monarch; her successor was the German, George I, ancestor of the current Windsors. The transition from the Stuarts to the Hanoverians provides the historical b [...]

    19. This is a Victorian historical novel typical of its genre. Dense prose and overwrought expressions of love and loyalty make it a challenging read for the modern reader. It is a book that needs to be read in the context of the fact it was written 150 years ago and much of its sentiment belongs to another age. However that said reading it was worth the effort but it is not Vanity Fair.

    20. Thackeray and the satirists of his age amuse me greatly. This isn't the best example of that satire, as it is a historical fiction, but his style still shines through.

    21. It’s been quite a while since I read Vanity Fair, Thackeray’s best-known novel, but I was aware that Thackeray devotees generally hold Henry Esmond in higher esteem. It is a classically-structured novel, one which follows a central character through an extended portion of his or her life, illustrating a moment in history or society by refracting it through the prism of that character.Oddly, though, much of Henry Esmond’s life seems to transpire in the spaces left among the others around hi [...]

    22. William Thackeray’s History of Henry Esmond, Esquire is set during the time of the reigns of William of Orange and his successor Queen Anne, where Catholics and Protestants intrigued against each other, roughly conforming to Tory and Whig Parties respectively, with the Tories plotting for a restoration of the Stuart dynasty. Thackeray’s original audience was likely to be more familiar with the events and divisions he describes than even an educated contemporary audience. So the work can be a [...]

    23. Šī bija nejauša un mazliet ērmīga izvēle. Nejauša, jo es šo grāmatu garāmejot izķeksēju no plaukta, ciemojoties pie vecākiem, kur tā, droši vien pateicoties neizteiksmīgajam izskatam (un starp citu - ļoti švakajai poligrāfiskajai kvalitātei pat pēc pieticīgajiem padomju laika standartiem), bija no mani izvairījusies bērnībā, kad lasīju visus "lielos" 19. romānus pēc kārtas.Ērmīga šī izvēle ir tāpēc, ka šis ir pirmais Tekerija darbs, ko lasu, un tas nepavisam [...]

    24. Improbable political chicanery overlaid on Thackeray's normal common sense, with entertaining portraits of Augustan authors. Describing Richard Steele: "His talk was not witty so much as charming. He never said a word that could anger anybody, and only became the more benevolent the more tipsy he grew." (p. 226) He is, as in Vanity Fair, always sympathetic to the common soldier and shocked by the brutality of war: "The wretched towns of the defenseless provinces, whose young men had been drafted [...]

    25. Clever, clever WMT, setting his story against such an important period in history, and giving us a narrator like Henry Esmond. Being female, I was more sucked in by the lives and loves of Henry than I was by the battle scenes, although the battle provides much necessary context. Several exquisite characters - and some unflattering cameo appearances by real people including Jonathan Swift - populate the novel, perhaps none more memorable than the imperious Beatrix. Besides Trix, Thackeray's women [...]

    26. [These notes were made in 1983:]. I found this a rather difficult novel to get through, partly because I was compelled to do so, of course, but I am not a great lover (admirer, yes - lover, no) of Thackeray's style. And Henry Esmond, hero/narrator, is a curious creature, far more sentimental in his actions than in his narrative, and finally unknowable, I think. The flashback technique - a lot of important information at the beginning, where it is useless - was very interesting, and, of course, T [...]

    27. It took me six months to read Henry Esmond. A friend of mine claims that Thackeray has three genres--social, biographical, and historical. This is one of the historical novels, and it gets so overwhelmed in the history that the plot vanishes. For example, it was fun that Richard Steele and Joseph Addison are characters. It was not fun to read a (very) extended chapter of Spectator pastiche, attributed to Henry Esmond. It was fun that Henry Esmond served under the Duke of Marlborough. It was not [...]

    28. Oddly, it was Richard Brookhiser who recommended this. I heard him one long-ago Sunday on BookNotes--- an interview where he recommended "Henry Esmond" as a great political novel. I'll agree with that--- this is a wonderful story about the end of a political age. We watch Henry try to negotiate the change between Stuart England--- the age of William and Mary and Queen Anne ---and the new world of the Hanoverians, between a world of patrimony and blood loyalties and one where money alone has begu [...]

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