VANITY FAIR BOOK
Buy Vanity Fair (Wordsworth Classics) by William Makepeace Thackeray, Owen Knowles, Dr Keith Carabine from Amazon's Fiction Books Store. Everyday low. Vanity Fair, novel of early 19th-century English society by William Makepeace Thackeray, published serially in monthly installments from to and in. Amelia does not esteem the values of Vanity Fair; Rebecca cares for nothing At the end of the book Rebecca has the money necessary to live in Vanity Fair;.
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Vanity Fair is an English novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, which follows the lives of Becky Sharp and Emmy Sedley amid their friends and families during . Vanity Fair book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. A novel that chronicles the lives of two women who could not be more. Though written in , William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair is peopled by types who remain familiar today. The novel's early nineteenth-century .
Vanitas Vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? A bewitching beauty who bends men to her will using charm, sex, and guile. A mother who cannot get over the loss of her husband and devotes her life to her child. Yet its characters—from dissolute playboys and self-important heirs to judgmental aunts and finicky gourmands—are instantly recognizable.
He refuses to see her again and takes a post in Coventry Island, where he dies of yellow fever. Because her parents are starving and she can neither provide for them nor give little Georgy what she thinks he needs, Amelia gives up her son to his grandfather Osborne. William Dobbin comes back from the service, reconciles old Osborne to Amelia, whereat Osborne makes a will leaving Georgy half of his fortune and providing for Amelia. Rebecca, having lost the respectability of a husband, wanders in Europe for a couple of years and finally meets Joseph, Georgy, Amelia, and William on the Continent.
Rebecca sets about to finish what she started to do at the first of the book — that is, to ensnare Joseph. She does not marry him, but she takes all his money and he dies in terror of her, the implication being that she has, at least, hastened his death.
At the end of the book Rebecca has the money necessary to live in Vanity Fair; she appears to be respectable. William has won Amelia. Rebecca has been the one who jolted Amelia into recognition that George, her first love, wasn't worthy. Little Rawdon, upon the death of his uncle Pitt and his cousin Pitt, becomes the heir of Queen's Crawley.
Little George, through the kindness of Dobbin, has lost his distorted values obtained in Vanity Fair. The reader feels that these young persons of the third generation will be better people than their predecessors in Vanity Fair.
Next About Vanity Fair. Removing book from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title. Are you sure you want to remove bookConfirmation and any corresponding bookmarks? Sign In. Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray. Pop Quiz! Thackeray finishes appropriately -- For truly it can be said, " Vanitas Vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? View all 14 comments. Apr 16, Kelly rated it really liked it Shelves: And a great mercy it is, both in life and in novels, which and the latter especially abound in villains of the most sombre sort that we are to have for a companion so guileless and good natured a person.
As she is not a heroine, there is no need to describe her person; indeed I am afraid that her nose was rather too short than otherwise and her cheek "But as we are to see a great deal of Amelia, there is no harm in saying, at the outset of our acquaintance, that she was a dear little creature. As she is not a heroine, there is no need to describe her person; indeed I am afraid that her nose was rather too short than otherwise and her cheeks a good deal too round and red for a heroine He himself is the best character in the novel.
To use theatre terminology, he definitely breaks the 4th wall into the story quite frequently. Reading it is rather like watching the play, but with periodic pauses for the playwright to jump up on stage and offer his commentary upon the action, and also upon his perceptions of the feelings of those watching his creation. Thackeray himself terms the "Vanity Fair"- his comment on society in general- a sort of play. This might sound annoying to some, but, really, it isn't.
If you're already reading the book critically I suppose it could also be compared to reading a chunk of a book for class and then stopping to discuss your reactions with a professor determined to make you see things beyond the surface and expose whatever prejudices you might have against the book.
I loved debating with Thackeray in interpreting scenes and actions. The margins are filled with my disagreements or indulgence of his point of view. And I almost never write in books. It was irresistable in this case. It is as interesting trying to draw a portrait of Thackeray's character as it is the rest of them. He is sometimes defensive, sometimes judgemental of his audience, at times quietly insightful, at times ironic, at times as gleeful as a child at some trick he believes he's played upon us.
You can just see him cackling over his writing, clapping his hands when he thinks of something good and scribbling away furiously into the night. He makes the tale seem brightly, urgently alive just in the sheer immediacy of his feeling and force of personality.
As to the story itself? Very solid, old fashioned tale of love, war, betrayal, money, family. All the standards for an epic. But in the way it is executed, it is anything but standard. Particularly for its time. It was subtitled, "the novel without a hero," by Thackeray. It is a book filled with, as the best are, very grey characters with motivations and actions sometimes very hard to fathom.
The epitome of this is of course Becky Sharp, the main character if not the "heroine," of the piece. Capable of both acts of great kindness and selflessness, and sheer, naked cruelty when it suits her, it is hard to either condemn or praise the woman in the end. I grew to root for her anyway, though.
She's awful, she really is, but she does seem to learn by the end of the book. She changes, progresses, and all while getting everything she's ever really seemed to want. She's ambitious and cutthroat, but manages to do well in a world that tries to slap her down at every turn.
Not that she doesn't deserve it sometimes, I will admit. There is also a more standard, sweeping love story for those of you in it for the more conventional aspects. The above described Amelia is involved in that plotline. This book has the best, the longest, the most throughly researched and detailed description of the battle of Waterloo that you are likely to find.
A huge chunk of the book is devoted to that day and the reaction to that day, and it is as epic a war novel as one could hope to find for that space of time. In some ways, I feel like Thackeray was trying to encompass his century as a whole, not just the very specific time of the Napoleonic wars. He deals with class, money, ambition, war, roles and rights of women, questions of morality, and times that inevitably change and change again, pushing the old world and the old ways into ever faster irrelevance.
Just as the 19th century did. I think Becky Sharp might well be a fitting symbol of the whole century: And yet, she still holds sentimental feelings for Amelia, for her husband, she does what she thinks is best for her son however controversial that might be and at whatever cost in pride , and she cannot quite bear to be completely alone I don't know. I'm really just remembering things I wrote down when I read this over two years ago, re-piecing together theories, so I hope you'll forgive me if they're a wee incoherent.
There is more to it than that, but I do not think that any review of reasonable length can encompass everything in this book, particularly when I've already rambled about my favorite things for so long, and things are already this disorganized.
Fitting, I suppose, in such a merrily chaotic book. So I'll just leave you with the quote that I think explains and drives much of the action and is one of the major points of the novel: Or having it, is satisfied?
View all 38 comments. Written in , Vanity Fair is an excellent satire of English society in the early 19th Century. Thackeray states several times that it is a novel "without a hero", and at a couple of points tries to claim that Amelia, a good person but who inevitably comes across as rather wishy-washy, is the heroine.
But we all know that a "bad" girl or boy is infinitely more interesting than a "good" girl or boy, so I suspect Thackeray of dissembling even here.
Becky Sharp is out and out the anti-hero ine Written in , Vanity Fair is an excellent satire of English society in the early 19th Century. Becky Sharp is out and out the anti-hero ine in this book, which could well have been named, "The Rise and Fall of Rebecca Sharp". Thackeray apparently saw people as "abominably selfish and foolish", and this negative view comes across loud and clear with his use of vicious vocabulary, and his unremittingly dark portrayal of human nature.
The author's voice is continually present, and his wry observations do contribute to making the novel vastly entertaining. They were also intended to make it instructive to his readers. Interestingly the author makes a habit of commenting on particular instances of female behaviour, and drawing from this to make a general observation of all women.
At first the reader is inclined to think how astute this is; how well Thackeray knows women and how unusual and refreshing it is to find this in a male writer of his day.
However, these observations are invariably judgemental, whereas he tends not to apply the same maxims to his male characters. The men are seen much more as individuals.
A modern reader becomes uneasy with this after a while; it begins to seem less witty and apt, and in fact rather tiresome. Here is an example of Thackeray's views on women: We should go mad had we to endure the hundredth part of those daily pains which are meekly borne by many women. Ceaseless slavery meeting with no reward; constant gentleness and kindness met by cruelty as constant; love, labour, patience, watchfulness without even so much as the acknowlegement of a good word; all this, how many of them have to bear in quiet, and appear abroad with cheerful faces as if they felt nothing.
Tender slaves that they are, they must needs be hypocrites and weak. Some of the "witty" observations about an heiress from St. Kitts, or a black manservant called "Sambo" make the modern reader cringe. The author is scathing about all his characters' partialities and weaknesses, yet because he is a man of his time, culture and class, he cannot see his own prejudices, complacently considering that this is the only correct stance.
Vanity Fair was serialised in 20 monthly parts. As with other novels which were originally issued in this way, the structure is not as tight as the reader would wish.
There are great swathes of writing about charades, or a play, or a battle, which are rather flabby. Authors such as Thackeray and Dickens to whom this applied for nearly all of his novels would surely have wished to edit their work, or even rewritten scenes or altered characters, had they had the opportunity. It is incredible to a modern reader that they fared as well as they did under this draconian regime.
And it is therefore unfair to compare this with the more structured later novels, as it is not a level playing field. This theme of "Vanity Fair" is reiterated over and over again, and throughout the reader will be thinking that nothing has changed over a century later. Thackeray's observations of human behaviour are so apposite, the descriptions of situations, personalities, expressed motives and hidden motives which are inevitably very different are timeless.
And this of course, coupled with the deliciously droll manner of Thackeray's writing, is what makes this novel a classic. It is hugely entertaining in parts, and would have been a 5 star novel had Thackeray's voice and attitudes not been quite so dominant throughout. Interestingly each monthly installment of Vanity Fair only ever sold copies at the most. At the same time, the hugely popular figure Charles Dickens was publishing his novel "Dombey and Son" , which was also being serialised by the same publisher.
Before long the episodes of "Dombey and Son" were selling 40, copies per month - eight times as many! Yet of the two, nowadays, probably Vanity Fair is the more popular. View all 43 comments. An examp 1. An example of his cynical sermonizing — here he waxes forth about our — yours, mine - postmortem fate: Which of the dead are most tenderly and passionately deplored?
Those who love the survivors the least, I believe. The death of a child occasions a passion of grief and frantic tears, such as your end, brother reader, will never inspire. I am very rich, and they want my inheritance — or very poor and they are tired of supporting me.
For instance the eight pages of satire about the small German Duchy of Pumpernickel p Or the detailed descriptions of charades at upper class parties p Mother of God, these sections are unreadable. This is what drags the rating down to 4. Why is this book pages long? Many passages like this: The author breaks the fourth wall all the time, as they liked to do in the early-ish days of novelling, before such stuff was frowned upon as being uncouth and inartistic.
So on p we get: And later on page whilst talking about his main characters holidaying in Germany he suddenly announces It was on this very tour that I, the present writer of a history of which every word is true, had the pleasure to see them first, and to make their acquaintance.
The author is not embarrassed to jump in and comment directly on his characters, like this: I like to dwell upon this period of her life, and to think that she was cheerful and happy. You see she has not had too much of that sort of existence as yet, and has not fallen in the way of means to educate her tastes or her intelligence. She has been domineered over hitherto by vulgar intellects.
It is the lot of many a woman. Essentially, you could maintain your place in well-to-do society by racking up credit extended to you by umpteen tradesmen and servants who would do it because you had a place in well-to-do society! Which leads us to the issue of Becky and her husband Rawdon. Becky is the best, most interesting character by far. At first this seems quite unjust. In the time-honoured way of plots in novels, all her maneuvering and manipulating and cajoling and flattering and flashing of bosoms is just about to pay off handsomely when it all goes tits up.
Not her fault. Then she disappears from the novel for a hundred pages or so. Meanwhile her husband Rawdon is a military gentleman until he resigns from the Army and then — does nothing. Continues with his cardsharping and pool-sharking but as for gainful employment, raises not one hand. I wasn't brought up like a younger brother, but was always encouraged to be extravagant and kep idle. Nor yet, really, is it that much of a story. A couple of women make rash marriages.
After which there are some ups and downs. He leaves us with the image of Vanity Fair itself, that whirligig of human foolishness, rocketing on like a perpetual switchback ride. View all 11 comments. Jan 25, Luffy rated it liked it. The author makes his presence known towards the end of the book. It was both eerie and uncanny.
He kept breaking the fourth wall, then he conjured that apparition of his in one of the last chapters. Vanity Fair contains no real heroes.
That was a fact that Thackeray himself stated, and who am I to dispute that. This book of his is quite droll in its stitching together. There is a threat of a continuum, then everything is put back into question. Classics are a strange beast. With them, I feel attac The author makes his presence known towards the end of the book. With them, I feel attachment like it's the result of Stockholm Syndrome. My delight at finishing these Mesozoic beasts is unique to the genre. Long may it continue.
View all 19 comments. I realize that I'm not making friends here by only giving what is considered a masterful piece of literature what amounts to a "meh" review but that's really how I felt about this book. On a small scale, I thought the writing was too long-winded. This is not a fancy story and it could have been told more concisely. I was mostly bored reading it. On a bigger scale, I had serious issues with the heroine.
Rebecca is the type of woman who has always made my stomach churn in anger and to ask me to sym I realize that I'm not making friends here by only giving what is considered a masterful piece of literature what amounts to a "meh" review but that's really how I felt about this book.
Rebecca is the type of woman who has always made my stomach churn in anger and to ask me to sympathize, even for a brief moment was just too much for me. I ended up despising every single character in the book. Which, if you want to get all literatti about it might be a good thing - having a visceral reaction to the written word is often seen as a power few can manage but it didn't make me like the author, the characters or the plot any better. View all 24 comments. Jun 21, Apatt rated it it was amazing Shelves: Vanity Fair is a big surprise for me.
I was expecting a story about the trial and tribulations of a couple of plucky lady friends what I discovered was a witty, satirical novel that made me laugh several times, engaged my attention always and even moving at times. On the surface Vanity Fair is a story of the two main characters Becky Sharp and Amelia Sedley, two childhood friends from the opposite ends of the moral and intellectual spectrum. Becky is ambitious, conniving and smart, Amelia is humb Vanity Fair is a big surprise for me.
Becky is ambitious, conniving and smart, Amelia is humble, kind, simple, and rather dim. It is quite a lengthy novel of more than pages with a large cast of characters who revolve around the lives of the two protagonists.
The most interesting feature of Vanity Fair is how meta it is. Amelia is too virtuous for her own good yet unintentionally takes advantage of a man who has an unrequited love for her.
Nice but dim Amelia It is an interesting trope of a lot of fiction that the nicest, kindest man is immediately friend-zoned by the love of his life. His stupidity is surprising because he is described as talented and singlehandedly recues his father and his sister from extreme poverty. Like all long novels it is something to sink into and live with rather than just passively reading. The book makes me reflect that being virtuous is not enough to be of much use to the world if the virtue is not supported by intelligence and wisdom.
On the other hand being clever like Becky and achieving wealth and fame is a hollow accomplishment if you are left with no genuine friends and family and viewed with disdain everywhere you go. Becky being Sharp One of my favorite Victorian novels, if you like reading the classics Vanity Fair is a must. Kirsch was not acquainted with a single one, and spoke all with indifferent volubility and incorrectness.
View all 15 comments. I finish the book and wonder how to best convert the muddy puddle of my impressions into some-kind of a coherent rich picture of a review. Well what is is, imagine an exhibition of of George Cruikshank's drawings or of those of Gilray perhaps, there is wit and fun, but after a while , maybe they are a little wearisome. In this it reminds me of when I was a student and sometimes, not knowing any better I'd read The Economist , eventually I noticed whatever country or problem was discussed the analy I finish the book and wonder how to best convert the muddy puddle of my impressions into some-kind of a coherent rich picture of a review.
In this it reminds me of when I was a student and sometimes, not knowing any better I'd read The Economist , eventually I noticed whatever country or problem was discussed the analysis was the same: Then I moved on to Private Eye for a while - here the message was aside from the staff and readers of that journal that everybody is stupid and stupidly commits stupid acts, everything always has been stupid, everything always will be.
This I felt was worse, because it was also depressing. About that time I suppose I also read Vanity Fair for the first time view spoiler [ unless I didn't, its hard to tie these things down sometimes, it was before I had a computer let alone be introduced to Goodreads hide spoiler ]. Again it is a classic, perhaps, at least in English, the classic moral sandwich book - a wafer of morality on either side of an oozing filling of vice and stupidity and greed view spoiler [ indeed a vanity fair, maybe even vanity fayre hide spoiler ].
Then again one might say it is an English War and Peace a family saga structured around the Napoleonic wars, with characters questing for self actualisation, except as satire rather than the seeking to satisfy the reader emotionally. It is maybe an ancestor of Bonfire of the Vanities a slice of life in which everybody is reprehensible or ridiculous to varying degrees.
There is problem in terms of the book as a moral sandwich, in that the title would suggest that we are in the moral universe of Pilgrim's Progress hurrying through the vanity fair, shunning its sinners seeing only the self inflicted misery, however the author does not seem to wearing John Bunyan's shoes, his attitude to vanity fair is a relaxed amusement and from the first he suggests to the readers of the novel attitudes to the characters and their doings that don't really fit into the world of Pilgrims Progress instead he suggests that the reader can be sympathetic or amused.
Of course by moving the story into the recent past, he is not suggesting that such dreadful goings on that place in Victorian society - oh no, it is the people of the reign of George IV who were so foolish and louche! The problem with laughing at the characters is that author has chosen the barrel and selected his fish, watching him shooting them for eight hundred pages, well I return to my original point.
It can be very droll and amusing as I hope the excerpts quoted below give some idea, it can also go on a bit, and if certain sections were not there would I have missed them? The other problem about the weakness of the moral wafer is that we are left cheek by jowl with Thackeray. I read somewhere view spoiler [ but have forgotten where and so am unsure if this is true or just speculation hide spoiler ] that Thackeray dropped early on the ever smiling Sambo the black servant and the 'amusingly' named Miss Swartz daughter of a German-Jewish father and a black Caribbean mother on account of reader criticism, I don't know if he was Racist as such, or it was more a case that all non-English people were inherently ridiculous in his opinion, indeed when Dobbin's regiment is posted to India his chief danger is that he may end up getting married to an Irish girl steady the Buffs , though at least she isn't Roman-Catholic for the benefit of the ladies and gentlemen at the back, smelling salts will be passed round , having said that if you are going to read it, don't read this edition, get this one or another with Thackeray's original illustrations - Glorvina looking at Dobbin across the dance floor is particularly fine.
The flip side of this is if you've ever wondered where this British empire thing is in the British novel, it is mostly hiding out in vanity fair: It was hotter than the curry; flesh and blood could bear it no longer. She laid down her fork. Mr Sedley burst out laughing he was a coarse man, from the Stock Exchange, where they love all sorts of practical jokes.
A problem is that Thackeray's principal characters can never develop there always has to be some angle or several angles at which they are ridiculous and mocked by the author. Interestingly from my point of view Thackeray's conception seems Wordsworthian - the child is the father of the man admittedly in part because the child remains a child - I think I recall one of his drawings of his characters as children but flopping about in adult clothes to underline that idea - but then getting back to the moral sandwich idea you might ask where the adult is in the book - but there isn't one, this is a book resolutely without a hero.
But digressing back to my digression I digress to Thackeray criticising Goethe's Elective affinities , which for Thackeray is morally dangerous, however we may feel psychologically much more sophisticated.
Rereading I felt a little more sorry than I remembered from previously for Becky Sharp as she comes across as the most intelligent - but in the way of tv cartoon villains - she knows her end desire, and she knows what she can do do, but she can't see that there is no road between the two.
All the characters are so completely conditioned by their childhoods that there is no possibility of growth they are doomed to be slaves of satire forever, Dobbin so whipped and beaten as his name invites in childhood, that as an adult he has to visit the same on himself view spoiler [For native speakers of British English it is impossible to see anybody called "Dobbin" as a hero, but perhaps one needs to be over a certain age now to know that view spoiler [ particularly since it is a long while since Brian Cant was on the TV hide spoiler ] hide spoiler ].
Obviously Becky Sharp is your girl if you love the idea of always having the last word witty come back, more cutting than the world hairdressing championships, plainly in the contemporary world she'd be the leading edge CFO keeping a financial empire just about afloat by lending money to herself, currencies moving through jurisdictions like planes landing and taking off at an international hub airport.
Biology is destiny. Ancestry is destiny. But it is all for laughs, the problem with satire is I feel sometimes the line between humour and a horrible world view, as with the treatment of non-English characters above, can be pretty fine view spoiler [ but then I am humourless view spoiler [ except when it comes to people eating chillies imagining they will be delightfully cooling view spoiler [ as to be fair, their name implies hide spoiler ] , or being indignant over having been scratched by rabbits twenty years previously hide spoiler ] hide spoiler ] "Everybody is striving for what is not worth the having!
If a young lady is not born into either rank or fortune, she will be looked down upon by good society and forced to exist in a humiliating dependency on others for life, unless the said young lady is willing, nay, not merely willing, but most strenuously strive to improve her situation. If the said young lady, despite being a poor orphan, happens to have the good fortune of being admitted into an exclusive academy for young ladies a Spoilers!
If the said young lady, despite being a poor orphan, happens to have the good fortune of being admitted into an exclusive academy for young ladies as an articled pupil, she has to ensure that she makes the utmost effort to learn everything that she could in that fine establishment.
The modern languages, Greek, Latin and the rudiments of Hebrew, as well as music and dancing are important subjects that need to be mastered by an accomplished young lady, but most important of all is the ability to speak good French with the purest Parisian accent, for it enables the speaker to pass herself off as a daughter of the French aristocracy, even though in reality her mother is a mere stage actress.
A wealthy husband should be prospected immediately after the young lady completes her education. The brother of a school friend is most suitable, even if the said young man is a fat dandy and not very sensible, as long as he is of ample inheritance. There are notable exceptions, it must be admitted, but they are exceedingly rare.
Nevertheless, the young lady, should she fail in her initial effort to land a wealthy husband, should endeavour to gain a letter of introduction that would recommend her as a governess to the most respectable of households. Such households, though populated by dissolute aristocrats, might house a number of potential spouses. A little sweet talk and a wink, and they all fall on your feet bearing trinkets of pearls and gold.
It is best, however, if the gentleman admirer is a wealthy, powerful nobleman, for the advantages that a clever lady could get from him, financially or otherwise, is great indeed. Appearances must be kept: How to afford all these when one has no regular income?
Vanity Fair Reader’s Guide
Not to despair, the ingenious lady always has means to do so. Prevail upon the generosity of friends and relatives. Impose upon your landlord and your greengrocers, washerwomen and other domestics. Unlike banks or Hebrew money-lenders, these little people are very unlikely to set loose a bailiff upon your respectable self, especially if they are in awe of your noble family. If all these schemes fail, and both your husband and gentleman admirer abandon you in a cloud of scandal, despair not!
A lady of some talent can always flee abroad and sing for her supper, if necessary. Better still, if you could rekindle a relationship with a former beau, now older and ailing, who though his own fortune is much encumbered, would take a life insurance naming your pitiful self as a beneficiary. The small fortune that ensues from such a settlement is surely enough to tide you over until your estranged son succeeds into his baronetcy and is finally able to provide you with a generous allowance.
Then you can spend your declining years as an admirably pious and charitable society lady. Thus a penniless orphan girl need not condemn herself to a life of servitude and penury, but instead rise into the pinnacle of society through her industry and ingeniousness! View all 17 comments. However, William Makepeace Thackeray's portrait of human nature isn't limited to any time or place. The novel is made up of nothing but super-rigidly-defined cliques; complicated rules about who is allowed to talk to whom, when, where, and for how long; small levels of popularity subdivided into types; and a bunch of people who are constantly trying to reach the top of the heap and avoid becoming social pariahs.
But what's more important than the plot is the style of the novel: And it really does have something for everyone to laugh at: What sets this aside from the novels of its time is that it's not about very nice people. These are people who make disliking them so easy -- which makes them, all the more, interesting.
I sensed that Thackeray got into everything he ever witnessed or suspected about human motives. It's a profoundly skeptical book. He pits worldliness against goodness with no illusions about which quality usually triumphs.
Put it this way: In a Dickens novel, a small boy rescued from the torments of a bully will almost certainly grow up to be an exemplar of kindness and gentleness. The same boy, in Thackeray, grows up to be a snob and a rotter, and hateful to the friend who saved him from the bully. Multiply those incidents into a panorama that stretches nearly the entire height of early 19th century English society, and you have an overwhelmingly coherent and devastating satiric vision.
And in the midst of it all is Thackeray's protagonist: A poor orphan of low birth, Becky is a born hustler and almost sociopathic striver who manages to raise herself to the upper limits of high society and wealth -- only to see her achievements crumble under the weight of her bad deeds.
Evil temptress or misunderstood woman ahead of her time? You be the judge. But there's another way of looking at the story which doesn't preclude the feminist treatment, and which seems potentially richer: Her foil, Amelia Sedley, is also compelling.
While Becky is self-reliant and action oriented, with a scheme or two always on the backburner, Amelia is dependent on the kindness of the next stranger to come around the corner. If you want to get fancy about it, she entirely lacks agency.
In almost any other novel, she would be the heroine, and her sad-sack ways would be disguised a little better so that instead of coming across like a lump of nothing she would seem like a paragon of femininity.
You know the drill: Here, though, we are shown exactly what happens when you take those supposed ideals of femininity to the extreme -- you get Jell-O in human form. Thackery's narrator, who's telling a "true" story based on the accounts of the principal characters he has met, satirizes early 19th century British and European culture class, religion, education, business, war, tourism, etc. He is keenly honest about their failings, yet you don't get the feeling that he despises people for their weaknesses.
He tells the story almost as if he is a fond old uncle, slightly detached, amused at the foibles of, but still having affection for, his characters. Sentences are complex and very long, florid, and decorative. There is a lightness in its tone, even when your emotions are being tugged a bit.
Aug 17, Robert rated it it was ok Shelves: Excessively Long Book Syndrome: It takes ages to read and it's more than a years old, therefore it must be great, right? So wrong, in this case, that the editor's claim that it "has strong claims to be the greatest novel in the English language" is laughable. It's not even the greatest such novel of its century by a huge stretch - seriously, the best works of Hardy, the Brontes and Austen are all better by a country mile, not least because they don't carry such a ridiculous weight of Excessively Long Book Syndrome: It's not even the greatest such novel of its century by a huge stretch - seriously, the best works of Hardy, the Brontes and Austen are all better by a country mile, not least because they don't carry such a ridiculous weight of excess verbiage.
A modern editor would need to employ slash and burn to prune this jungle back. Most of the excess is Authorial Voice going off along lengthy tangents before getting back to describing the action. It's extreme even by Victorian standards. Leaving the sheer length aside, the tone of the book ranges from scathing, sarcastic and satirical to farcical, comical and ironical by way of such stations as bitter, sympathetic and moralistic - with the clear message that Earthly pursuits are all vanity, as encapsulated in the title metaphor, which is repeated ad nauseum through-out.
Beyond that there are clear attitudes in regard to the conduct of both women and men that go back-and-fore across the line between cliche-Victorian stereotypes and socially progressive campaigner. The over-all bitter and satirical tone, however, seems to detract from rather than strengthen the power of these themes; Hardy's all-out Tragic approach is much more effective and he is far more advanced in his views anyway.
The same goes for Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, where the real terrors of marriage to an addict are laid bare. Austen's wit and humour and wish-fulfillment in Pride and Prejudice is far more entertaining and has a female character everyone can get behind and root for. That's completely absent here; the two contrasted female protagonists are on the one hand, increasingly evil as the story progresses and on the other, dull and lacking all perception of character in others. It's hard to like either of them after about the first third of the book.
Instead we have a Stoic hero, who whilst admirable in many ways, is also unexciting for the most part. By now you may be wondering why I staggered through all the p of relatively small print constituting the main text. The rest is notes and other "apparatus'. Occasionally I wondered whether it was worth it, myself, but in fact, there is a good, if diluted, story here and some snort-worthy humourous cracks and comic scenes as well as drama: Sufficiently so to drag the reader or at least this one through to the end simply to find out how the whole mess of family conflicts and marital disasters turns out for everybody and there are so many characters that even Thackeray can't keep them all straight at times, renaming a serving maid or two here and there and the like.
And there are two great moments, two great sentences, one at the half-way point, at Waterloo, the other right at the end in the closing paragraphs, that show a way forward to a superior kind of writing - but I can't tell you what they are without spoiling everything. Over-all, yes it was worth the effort, but when it comes to famous gigantic novels, Les Misearbles and War and Peace are vastly more rewarding. Ok, ok I'm reading this as a break between books for classes in Grad School. Is that the dorkiest thing you could ever imagine?
It is. It just is. But the first two pages, the author's introduction Better than Kafka, better than Nabokov, better than whatever. Fucking brilliant- vivid, funny, rambunctious, wise, sarcastic, immortally satirical.
I was hooked each time I picked up the book and read through it. Sometimes there's that Ok, ok Sometimes there's that first blush kind of thing going on, when a book seems amazing in the first few minutes of poking around in it in a bookstore and then it loses its shine when you take it home and read it.
Not so w. Vanity Fair I'm maybe a hundred pages in and I'm savoring it. It's deliciously wise and cyncial and knowing and filled with its own combustion engine, perpetual storytelling ie serialization, 'let's throw in a subplot so we can go out to eat for the next week' is a lost art.
Vanity Fair (novel) - Wikipedia
One thing, an objection anticipated- Story being overtold? Legitimate grounds How much story does one really need? What is a story without the very thing which comprises it?
The protein in the beef, the fiber in the bread For me as a reader, it's all about language- the way things are said, not as much what's said. How many buildungsroman 'idealistic young man from the sticks hits the big city and gets more than he bargained for" stories does one need to read The Red And the Black, On The Road, Huck Finn, Great Gatsby, Portrait, whatever View all 10 comments.
Un libro que llega a provocar carcajadas y que se lee siempre con una sonrisa, aunque no sea siempre alegre. Sus continuos comentarios al margen dirigidos al lector son tan interesantes como la propia historia. Una delicia de libro. View 2 comments. Maybe I've matured as a reader now but I think I haven't enjoyed any classic as much as I did this one.
It was thicker and longer than many a novel, but I enjoyed it the better for it. By the end, I understood why it was so long, the ending justified it.
I was so daunted by its iconic title to read it before, but it was easier to read than most classics. The experience was complete, there wasn't anything missing, it had everything and so so much more. Published in , Vanity Fair is a Victorian satire and covers the English era during and after the Napoleonic Wars. The novel is about two women, totally opposite to each other, who after completing their education set out into the world. Thackeray talks about British Raj of those times and the Battle of Waterloo which changes the course of the lives of the protagonists.
The writing is rich with historical, Biblical, and literary allusions and references. The omniscient narration is most endearing. The title of the novel, Vanity Fair, has been iconic to this day. The author explains his title again and again in the novel bringing its significance to light.
The author declares the heroine of the novel in the very beginning but subtitled his novel "A novel without a hero" which I don't agree with, by the way.
I recognized a hero in William Dobbin by the latter part of the novel. Thackeray's writing portrayed a realism unfound among the writers of his time. Thackeray discusses the human nature, explores the hypocrisy of society, and takes the curtain off the mysteries of life for a moment and lets us take a peek in. The novel is about sticking to the idols we make, ourselves, of people we think we love but which are nothing like the reality, our need to believe in our ideals no matter how false they may be, the egotism and of course the vanity of the innocent and the cunning, the rich and the poor alike, the human infidelity, the brutal reality of being poor, human greed, of closing our eyes to what is right in front of us, the truth, the frailty of relations, of friendship and opportunism.
Thackeray shows us and believes that love triumphs in the end, but so does villainy, it doesn't get retribution enough, but I had the underlying sense that depravity is a punishment in itself. Ecclesiastes 1. Originally published on: There was a girl I knew in school that made my formative years for this purpose I'm considering the "formative years" to be a bloody hell. She was a nasty, manipulative, cruel girl who, unfortunately for me, also had the luck of being beautiful and popular.
She was wretched to the little people, and I was a little person. She was mean to me but I so wanted her to be my friend because I thought if I was her friend and a part of her circle, then everything would be okay.
Life would be perf There was a girl I knew in school that made my formative years for this purpose I'm considering the "formative years" to be a bloody hell. Life would be perfect. I remember one day in class as we were down to the last few minutes before the bell, our teacher just let us all sit around and talk. There was a school dance that evening and it was all anyone wanted to talk about. The teacher happened to ask this popular girl if she was looking forward the dance.
This girl made a comment that has stayed with me all these years: She probably did think about what sort of attention she would get based on how she behaved. I was sort of scared of her in that moment - someone my age who knew more about human nature than I thought I ever could, someone who knew how to manipulate everyone around her.
It was freakish and sort of awesome all at once. I thought of that girl a lot while reading Vanity Fair. Becky Sharp is just as dangerous a character as that girl I knew was in real life. The concept of "being nice" was foreign to both of them; why bother being nice to people who couldn't get you anywhere in life? Why bother being nice to someone who is, for all intents and purposes, below you? It's a crazy thought process but that's what Becky and this other girl were all about.
What's interesting to me is that Becky is not really the main character of the story. Just like that girl I knew in school.
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