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Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Download Vanity Fair ebook. 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 and after the Napoleonic Wars. It was first published as a 19-volume monthly serial from 1847 to 1848, carrying the subtitle Pen and Pencil Sketches of English Society, reflecting both its satirisation of early 19th-century British society and the many illustrations drawn by Thackeray to accompany the text. It was published as a single volume in 1848 with the subtitle A Novel without a Hero, reflecting Thackeray’s interest in deconstructing his era’s conventions regarding literary heroism.[1] It is sometimes considered the “principal founder” of the Victorian domestic novel.[2]

The story is framed as a puppet play and the narrator, despite being an authorial voice, is notoriously unreliable. Late in the narrative, it is revealed that the entire account has been 2nd- or 3rd-hand gossip the writer picked up “years ago” from Lord Tapeworm, British charge d’affaires in one of the minor German states and relative of several of the other aristocrats in the story but none of the main characters: “the famous little Becky puppet”, “the Amelia Doll”, “the Dobbin Figure”, “the Little Boys”, and “the Wicked Nobleman, on which no expense has been spared”.[3] Despite her many stated faults and still worse ones admitted to have been passed over in silence, Becky emerges as the “hero”—what is now called an antihero—in place of Amelia because Thackeray is able to illustrate that “the highest virtue a fictional character can possess is interest.”[1]

The serial was a popular and critical success; the novel is now considered a classic and has inspired several film adaptations. In 2003, Vanity Fair was listed at No. 122 on the BBC’s The Big Read poll of the UK’s best-loved books.

Editorial Reviews

Reactions to this novel will probably depends heavily on two things — tolerance for a long, sprawling, often diffuse story and a willingness to immerse oneself in a book where none of the main characters are fully likable people.

This is a long, long book. When I started reading it I was living in Arizona with no plans to move. By the time I finished the book this week, I had been a resident of Minnesota for almost three months. And I’m not a slow reader. It isn’t the most sprawling Victorian novel I’ve read (The Way of All Flesh felt a lot longer and involved many more generations and Wives and Daughters: An Everyday Story, another great serial novel, was also pretty meandering), but it is certainly in the category.

If you have a willingness to immerse yourself in an author’s world for an extended period of time, you will probably enjoy this novel. It helps, however, to also have an appetite for harsh social commentary. It doesn’t seem as if the author likes anybody very much. Even the characters who are initially appealing turn out to have serious character flaws. Readers who want to “like” characters should probably keep looking.

On the whole, I thought this novel was an excellent read. The author’s wit, while not as sharp as Dickens at his best, is enjoyable. The frequent authorial injections, while an old-fashioned technique, were delivered with a sensibility that was quite modern. The story didn’t turn out at all as I expected it would.

If you have an appetite for a long novel with realistic characters, I highly recommend this book. I liked it enough to want to check out more of the author’s work. Comparing him to authors like Austen isn’t really fair. He was really working in a completely different way, with the same elements of social satire, but on a much longer scale and in a much darker vein.

Vanity Fair ebook pdf, epub, mobi, prc

About the Author

William Makepeace Thackeray (/ˈθækəri/; 18 July 1811 – 24 December 1863) was a British novelist and author. He is known for his satirical works, particularly Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrait of English society.

Thackeray, an only child, was born in Calcutta,[1] British India, where his father, Richmond Thackeray (1 September 1781 – 13 September 1815), was secretary to the Board of Revenue in the British East India Company. His mother, Anne Becher (1792–1864), was the second daughter of Harriet Becher and John Harman Becher, who was also a secretary (writer) for the East India Company.

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Vanity Fair
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