Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair

A Novel Without A Hero

Book - 2003
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William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair depicts the anarchic anti-heroine Beky Sharpe cutting a swathe through the eligible young men of Europe, set against a lucid backdrop of war and international chaos. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by John Carey.

No one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than the alluring and ruthless Becky Sharp, who defies her impoverished background to clamber up the class ladder. Her sentimental companion Amelia Sedley, however, longs only for the caddish soldier George. As the two heroines make their way through the tawdry glamour of Regency society, battles - military and domestic - are fought, fortunes made and lost. The one steadfast and honourable figure in this corrupt world is William Dobbin, devoted to Amelia, bringing pathos and depth to Thackeray's gloriously satirical epic of love and social adventure. Set against the background of the Napoleonic wars, Thackeray's 'novel without a hero' is a lively satirical journey through English society, exposing greed, snobbery and pretension.

This edition follows the text of Thackeray's revised edition of 1853. John Carey's introduction identifies Vanity Fair as a landmark in the development of European Realism, and as a reflection of Thackeray's passionate love for another man's wife.

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) was born and educated to be a gentleman, but gambled away much of his fortune while at Cambridge. He trained as a lawyer before turning to journalism. He was a regular contributor to periodicals and magazines and Vanity Fair was serialised in Punch in 1847-8.

If you enjoyed Vanity Fair you might like Guy de Maupassant's Bel-Ami , also available in Penguin Classics.

' Vanity Fair has strong claims to be the greatest novel in the English language. It is also the only English novel that challenges comparison with Tolstoy's War and Peace '
John Carey

Publisher: London : Penguin, 2003
ISBN: 9780141439839
0141439831
Branch Call Number: THACKERAY, W
Characteristics: 912 pages ; 20 cm

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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.

r
rpawlick
Jul 26, 2011

If you liked this book, I recommend "Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier" and of course "Jane Eyre". Good book, great vixen.

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
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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