The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.: A Colonel in the Service of Her Majesty Queen Anne

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017年11月4日 - 196页
Thackeray's great historical novel recounts the events of Queen Anne's reign through the eyes of a ranking officer in her military, dramatizing the events surrounding principle players of the English Restoration.

The book is presented in the style of a memoir, beginning in 1678. Henry commences life as an apparently poor orphan, residing in the guardianship of French Huguenot refugees. However, the local Viscount of Castlewood, Thomas Esmond, takes him from this existence at age ten - it is assumed that Henry is the nobleman's illegitimate son.

Even as a boy, Henry is made to be acutely aware of the era's intense and destructive conflicts. Thomas - a Catholic - is in staunch opposition to King William III and takes up arms against him. Killed in the Battle of the Boyne, Esmond's less rebellious cousin Francis takes over the family lands; he and his wife the Lady Castlewood acknowledge Henry as a legitimate part of the family, and care for him.

As Henry comes of age, Francis is killed in a dual - a fairly frequent practice between the aristocracy of the era. As he lays dying from his wounds, Francis reveals in a letter he'd composed that Henry is the heir to the Castlewood fortune; still formally a bastard, an emotional Henry burns the confession, afraid of the grave damage to the family reputation it could bring.

For a time, there is enmity between Henry and his foster mother. However after years spent in successful military service, he and Lady Castlewood reconcile. Partway through his army service, Esmond becomes smitten with his vivacious and attractive cousin Beatrix, but is warned of her immense, even callous, vanity. The final parts of the book reveal Henry's fate, both in his soldiering career and his romantic life.

The History of Henry Esmond is one of Thackeray's most acclaimed historical novels. The liveliness with which it describes a period of upheaval in English life was praised by critics and contemporaries of the Victorian era. Thackeray's intense descriptions of the era led to the Queen Anne style being created as much from the author's ideas as from an urge to accurately reproduce early 18th century style.

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作者简介 (2017)

William Makepeace Thackeray was born in Calcutta, India, where his father was in service to the East India Company. After the death of his father in 1816, he was sent to England to attend school. Upon reaching college age, Thackeray attended Trinity College, Cambridge, but he left before completing his degree. Instead, he devoted his time to traveling and journalism. Generally considered the most effective satirist and humorist of the mid-nineteenth century, Thackeray moved from humorous journalism to successful fiction with a facility that was partially the result of a genial fictional persona and a graceful, relaxed style. At his best, he held up a mirror to Victorian manners and morals, gently satirizing, with a tone of sophisticated acceptance, the inevitable failure of the individual and of society. He took up the popular fictional situation of the young person of talent who must make his way in the world and dramatized it with satiric directness in The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1844), with the highest fictional skill and appreciation of complexities inherent within the satiric vision in his masterpiece, Vanity Fair (1847), and with a great subtlety of point of view and background in his one historical novel, Henry Esmond (1852). Vanity Fair, a complex interweaving in a vast historical panorama of a large number of characters, derives its title from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and attempts to invert for satirical purposes, the traditional Christian image of the City of God. Vanity Fair, the corrupt City of Man, remains Thackeray's most appreciated and widely read novel. It contrasts the lives of two boarding-school friends, Becky Sharp and Amelia Smedley. Constantly attuned to the demands of incidental journalism and his sense of professionalism in his relationship with his public, Thackeray wrote entertaining sketches and children's stories and published his humorous lectures on eighteenth-century life and literature. His own fiction shows the influence of his dedication to such eighteenth-century models as Henry Fielding, particularly in his satire, which accepts human nature rather than condemns it and takes quite seriously the applicability of the true English gentleman as a model for moral behavior. Thackeray requested that no authorized biography of him should ever be written, but members of his family did write about him, and these accounts were subsequently published.