Set in the 18th century, Barry Lyndon is the fictional autobiography of an adventurer and rogue. Born into the petty Irish gentry, and outmanouevred in his first love-affair, a ruined Barry volunteers for the British army. After seeing service in Germany, he deserts and, following a brief spell as a spy, pursues the career of a gambler in the dissolute clubs and courts of Europe. In a determined effort to enter fashionable society, he marries a titled heiress only to find himself easily outwitted. This is a masterful work of fiction, reflecting Thackeray's belief that true art can represent a subject, however unpleasant, with accuracy and wit, without moralising.