Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair

Book - 1994
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With an Introduction and Notes by Owen Knowles, University of Hull.

Thackeray's upper-class Regency world is a noisy and jostling commercial fairground, predominantly driven by acquisitive greed and soulless materialism, in which the narrator himself plays a brilliantly versatile role as a serio-comic observer.

Although subtitled A Novel without a Hero, Vanity Fair follows the fortunes of two contrasting but inter-linked lives: through the retiring Amelia Sedley and the brilliant Becky Sharp, Thackeray examines the position of women in an intensely exploitative male world.

When Vanity Fair was published in 1848, Charlotte Brontë commented: 'The more I read Thackeray'sworks the more certain I am that he stands alone - alone in his sagacity, alone in his truth, alone in his feeling... Thackeray is a Titan.'

Publisher: Hertfordshire : Wordsworth Editions, c1994.
ISBN: 9781853260193
1853260193
Characteristics: 671 p. ;,20 cm.

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f
FVReader
Aug 29, 2017

A look at the foibles of people and their motives. Thackeray's characters display all the aspects of "vanity". By definition, vanity is either "excessive pride in or admiration of one's own appearance or achievements" or "the quality of being worthless or futile".
Thackeray manages to give each of his characters an aspect of vanity that conflicts and contrasts with their circumstances, life predicament or situation. He manages to juggle them all into a well told story.
Amelia and Becky are the two main characters. As Thackeray intends, neither is a heroine.
Becky, the "bad" girl, is bright, intelligent, witty and both fun and horrifying to read about. Her antics are so self-advancing. But can a poor, penniless girl be blamed for using her wiles and ways to find a moneyed husband....for finding her way to security in the only way her society allows her to? She will stop at nothing and believes she can accomplish all; that is her vanity.
Amelia, the "good" girl, is a milksop. She's privileged, wealthy and her life is laid out for her. She has to try for nothing; it is all given to her. She is the other definition of vanity. Oh boy.... but.....is she as innocent as she appears?....
Other characters are no better. Drinking, gambling, boasting; it's all there. There truly are no heroes here, as the sub-title states.
Thackeray has managed to put all these totally flawed people together in a delightful manner. In the end, the story leaves the reader with a bit of a mystery, too. What more can one want from a story?

d
dwittke
Oct 23, 2015

Some passages were very well put together with good depth and color. Credit should also be given to the pioneering of a 'Becky Sharp' character, which I would assume to be ground breaking at the time. However, overall I found it dull and tiresome.

The author spent most of the story immortalizing the characters and giving creed to their plight; but to conclude many chapters, he would address the reader directly to belittle the characters and plot, pointing out the shallowness of the 'vanity fair'. I found it a strange disconnect.

l
lukasevansherman
Feb 14, 2015

"A novel without a hero."
A contemporary and friend of Dickens, Thackeray is best known for this massive novel, which takes its title from "Pilgrim's Progress." Becky Sharp is one of the great heroines of the 19th century and "Vanity Fair" is one of the triumphs of Victorian fiction. Yes, it's a long read, but a very rewarding one. Thackeray also wrote "Barry Lydon," which was made into an acclaimed film by Stanley Kubrick.

s
shadowcat1234
Nov 05, 2010

One of those must read books ,a jewel.

m
Mosaic
Oct 13, 2010

What a brilliant novel!

What a pleasure to read!

In short, this is a very readable novel full of vitality and reflection. It is a scathing look at 19th Northern European, especially English, society. The novel ultimately gave me the sense that one should just throw a match on the lot of them and walk away with a good conscience.

I absolutely loved the character of Rebecca Sharp - a woman full of brains, determination, and "hutspa." She was no better than the rest, but at least she had a pulse and understood what it was to enjoy life. I consider her the ultimate hero of the book because it is she that finally gets Amelia and Dobbin together. And, of course, she survives and quite well I might add.

Very enjoyable. I would recommend this book to anyone!

"Ah! Vanitas Vantatium! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us had his desire? Or, having it is satisfied?"

BRILLIANT!

m
Mosaic
Oct 13, 2010

What a brilliant novel!

What a pleasure to read!

In short, this is a very readable novel full of vitality and reflection. It is a scathing look at 19th Northern European, especially English, society. The novel ultimately gave me the sense that one should just throw a match on the lot of them and walk away with a good conscience.

I absolutely loved the character of Rebecca Sharp - a woman full of brains, determination, and "hutspa." She was no better than the rest, but at least she had a pulse and understood what it was to enjoy life. I consider her the ultimate hero of the book because it is she that finally gets Amelia and Dobbin together. And, of course, she survives and quite well I might add.

Very enjoyable. I would recommend this book to anyone!

"Ah! Vanitas Vantatium! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us had his desire? Or, having it is satisfied?"

BRILLIANT!

m
Mosaic
Sep 09, 2010

What a brilliant novel!

What a pleasure to read!

In short, this is a very readable novel full of vitality and reflection. It is a scathing look at 19th Northern European, especially English, society. The novel ultimately gave me the sense that one should just throw a match on the lot of them and walk away with a good conscience.

I absolutely loved the character of Rebecca Sharp - a woman full of brains, determination, and "hutspa." She was no better than the rest, but at least she had a pulse and understood what it was to enjoy life. I consider her the ultimate hero of the book because it is she that finally gets Amelia and Dobbin together. And, of course, she survives and quite well I might add.

Very enjoyable. I would recommend this audiobook to anyone!

"Ah! Vanitas Vantatium! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us had his desire? Or, having it is satisfied?"

BRILLIANT!

m
meaganpeters4
Apr 09, 2010

Incredible look at victorian society and the social climbing! Becky Sharp is a woman well before her time!

k
kalio
Feb 12, 2010

There are plenty of less-than-ideal women in Jane Austen?s novels. Lucy Steele is a pert, pretty kiss-up in Sense and Sensibility. Innocent Catherine Moreland is completely taken in by the flirty, wily, money-hungry Isabella Thorpe in Northanger Abbey. The noisy/ nosy Musgrove sisters can?t keep their hands off Persuasion?s dashing Captain Wentworth. Sister Lydia runs off with the wicked Wickham in Pride and Prejudice and cousin Maria is ruined by that charming cad Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park. Not a one of them can hold a candle to Becky Sharp, our delightfully devious anti-heroine of the classic Vanity Fair. Becky, daughter of a starving artist with the barest pretensions to gentility, is a cunning young woman who is determined not to let something as trivial as social status stand in the way of greatness. Becky is the opposite of her fellow classmate Amelia Sedley, a wealthy girl who?s everything a lady should be?delicate, kind, simpering, and simple. Becky, like any good heroine, seeks the security of a good match, but she?s much keener on money and rank than love and companionship. Becky hitches her wagon to the Crawley family, who employs her as a governess and is a perfect target for her sugary charms and seductions. The Crawleys have a handsome son, and Becky can play the sweet young thing to a tee. Becky and Amelia meet again as wives of fellow soldiers and as their fates unfold against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, author William Makepeace Thackeray playfully satirizes both the upper-class society of his day and the novel-of-manners style of literature with this ?novel without a hero.? The unscrupulous Miss Sharp has remained a perennial favorite of classic literature due entirely to her wit, charm, considerable sex appeal, and dead refusal to play by the very strict rules of her era. For readers who wish Jane Austen had occasionally pushed the envelope just a bit more, the exploits of Becky Sharp are ideal indeed.

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