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Vanity Fair (Penguin Classics) by William…
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Vanity Fair (Penguin Classics) (original 1847; edition 2003)

by William Makepeace Thackeray (Author)

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14,872192386 (3.87)1 / 794
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero is William Thackeray's celebrated satirical novel of 19th century British society. Vanity Fair follows the rags-to-riches tale of the captivating and ruthless Becky Sharpe as she navigates her way through London society with fearsome determination and ambition.

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Member:MarkWarner
Title:Vanity Fair (Penguin Classics)
Authors:William Makepeace Thackeray (Author)
Info:Penguin Classics (2003), Edition: Reissue, 912 pages
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Work Information

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (Author) (1847)

  1. 131
    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (HollyMS)
    HollyMS: Both works are about women who would do anything to gain a life of luxury.
  2. 30
    Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (flissp, Booksloth)
  3. 10
    The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope (morryb)
  4. 11
    Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (Antarehs)
  5. 02
    Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: It's all about what people do for entertainment, status, and sport. Along the way, the entire spectrum of society is satirized.
  6. 02
    Bleak House by Charles Dickens (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Obra soberbia de Dickens. Más "luminosa" que otras de sus obras. Historia larga, pero atrapante.
  7. 13
    Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (aprille)
    aprille: Scarlett and Becky share a lot in common.
AP Lit (37)
1840s (1)
100 (36)
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 Monthly Author Reads: December: Thackeray : Vanity Fair5 unread / 5rainpebble, January 2011

» See also 794 mentions

English (177)  Italian (6)  Spanish (4)  Portuguese (1)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  All languages (191)
Showing 1-5 of 177 (next | show all)
I read about 100 pages and put it down.
  lawrence | May 3, 2024 |
3.75/5 ⭐️s. “All is vanity, nothing is fair.“ After 912 pages and 67 chapters, that pretty much is the main theme. I can see why this is Thackeray's masterpiece as he scathingly criticizes the norms in early 19th-century England between rich vs. poor, women vs. men, religion vs. non-religion ... nobody is immune from his satire. A different type of narrator, too, where you felt like he was addressing you personally for a LONG story. He could have chopped off some chapters, though, and kept to the main plot because it was overwhelmingly verbose at times. Overall, I am glad I read it and immensely enjoyed most of it. ( )
  crabbyabbe | Aug 31, 2023 |
Loooooooonnnnnnnggggg and borrrriiiiinnnnnnngggggg.

It started off okay as the story of two women with very different backgrounds and attitudes. Becky with no money and no social standing is relentlessly driven to achieve both and nothing will stand in her way. Amelia is from a well off family and is extremely sweet and kind to everyone whose path she crosses. We follow both as find husbands and attempt to establish their place in the world. Other than that, it is basically a family saga with lots of sisters, brothers, cousins weaving in and out of the story.

It's basically a soap opera that drowns in its own details. It probably was cutting edge at the time to have a book revolve around a ruthless woman, but I just don't think there's anything exciting about that storyline now. The book skewers a lot about the society at the time and the social mores, so I can see why this might have been a great read in the past. But honestly, I just didn't care at all about the characters or what happened to them. This was a rough go after trying to read A Suitable Boy which arguably could be called the Indian Vanity Fair and being unable to finish that. This one was a close call, but it was easier to skim parts and still have the gist of the book. Both books started off well for me and both had writing styles I thought were fine and accessible . . .but both devolved into a giant snore for me.

The only redeeming quality here was the narrator who breaks the third wall a bit, talking to the reader and making snarky observations. It's a construct you may be inclined to love or hate, but I felt it was the saving grace of the book. ( )
  Anita_Pomerantz | Mar 23, 2023 |
A delightful book; Thackeray's characters are made to love or hate, as the case may be. This book is exceedingly long, and you have to constantly refer to the notes for context, but what you get out of it is worth it. Who doesn't love to laugh at English"aristocracy"? Thackeray excels at his art. ( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
This book might be unique in that it not only claims to have no hero, but in fact has no hero. What it does have is a cast of duplicitous, weak or inane characters, none of whom stir much in the way of either pity, empathy, or affinity. It also has the bad girl to end all bad girls, Miss Rebecca Sharp. I doubt anyone would argue that Becky is not the most interesting character in the book, and while some might admire the good little Amelia, few could actually like her.

Vanity Fair is quite a bit longer than it needs to be and some chapters meander aimlessly, but this, I believe, can be attributed to the method in which it was released. When a book is being presented to its audience in a serial form, it must go on for a prearranged period of time and acquire a certain length. Were it being edited for release as a novel today, I feel sure it would be shortened considerably.

Thackeray breaks the fourth wall constantly, talking to the reader and urging him to see the point he has just made, in a way that can become irritating at times. But, even this conceit works for me for the most part. Toward the end of the book, the narrator explains that he has “just met” the principles, which sent my head spinning, for how could one know all the details set forth in such omniscient fashion if one just had a chance encounter with these people toward the end of their stories? Up to this point, I had accepted the narrator as an all-seeing sort of presence, not a literal acquaintance of the characters, so it was discombobulating to say the least.

Vanity Fair is a moral tale, or more correctly a tale about lack of morals. One wonders if this society actually had any or if everything that passed for morals was pretense.

At one point, Thackery compares the behavior of these persons to a mermaid and her tail:
Those who may peep down under waves that are pretty transparent and see it writhing and twirling, diabolically hideous and slimy, flapping amongst bones, or curling around corpses; but above the waterline, I ask, has not everything been proper, agreeable, and decorous, and has even the most squeamish immoralist in Vanity Fair a right to cry fie.

I believe he is trying to impress upon his reader that this is a world of pretense, a world that cares more for appearance than it ever could for virtue. Indeed, we watch Becky Sharp navigate this society in the most unscrupulous way possible, and we cannot help feeling that her flaws and shortcomings are more about survival than evil.

And, there seems to be a particular emphasis on women and their relationships to one another:

I am tempted to think that to be despised by her sex is a very great compliment to a woman.

and

As they say, the persons who hate Irishmen most are Irishmen; so, assuredly, the greatest tyrants over women are women.

It does indeed seem that it is the fairer sex, who are proposed to have the gentler hearts, the nurturing instincts and the sweeter dispositions, who wield the knife most cruelly. The men, while equally dissipated, seem somehow more gullible and unaware than hateful or manipulative.

I had a hard time deciding what rating to give this tome. I did enjoy it and found myself caught up in the story at times. There were also moments when I might have laid it aside and never picked it up again without the slightest hesitation. It is not the best of Victorian literature to me...it has none of the power of Eliot, none of the charm of Dickens, and none of the atmosphere of Hardy. In short, it cannot be ranked with the best of its time, but it cannot be dismissed either. I could not help feeling sorry for Thackeray, knowing that he suffered in comparison to Dickens in his lifetime and will continue to do so throughout literary history.

I am happy to have read Vanity Fair at last. There are surely some important ideas addressed and some things of value that can be taken away from it, but it is not the kind of book that pleads well to be read again. ( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 177 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (75 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thackeray, William MakepeaceAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ball, RobertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beach, Joseph WarrenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borden, GabrielleCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carey, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carey, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Castle, JohnReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cheshire, GerardContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dames, NicholasIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dospevska, NeliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leslie, Charles RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Macchi, RuthTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Margolyes, MiriamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marquand, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCaddon, WandaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Melosi, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mutzenbacher, TheresiaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nierop, A. vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pagetti, CarloContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pym, RolandIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ricci Miglietta, MauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ridley, M. R.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saintsbury, GeorgeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stewart, J. I. M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stewart, J. I. M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutton, GeorginaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thackeray, William MakepeaceIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trollope, JoannaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuomikoski, AinoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weldon, FayIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winterich, John T.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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While the present century was in its teens, and on one sun-shiny morning in June, there drove up to the great iron gate of Miss Pinkerton's academy for young ladies, on Chiswick Mall, a large family coach, with two fat horses in blazing harness, driven by a fat coachman in a three-cornered hat and wig, at the rate of four miles an hour.
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But, lo! and just as the coach drove off, Miss Sharp put her pale face out of the window and actually flung the book back into the garden.
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Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero is William Thackeray's celebrated satirical novel of 19th century British society. Vanity Fair follows the rags-to-riches tale of the captivating and ruthless Becky Sharpe as she navigates her way through London society with fearsome determination and ambition.

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British social scene
A Novel without heroes
In Vanity Fair
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