Another English classic and a very satisfying read, especially if you like irony.
I have restored the accents and added a TOC and picture.
Please note that Becky Sharp’s teacher does refer to Dr Johnson’s Dictionary as the ‘Dixonary’ (-- she is not as well-educated as we have been led to believe). Also, several members of the Crawley family have atrocious spelling. It is not a mistake.
Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero is a novel by William Makepeace Thackeray that satirizes society in early 19th-century England.
The term "vanity fair" originates from the allegorical story The Pilgrim's Progress, published in 1678 by John Bunyan where there is a town fair held in a village called Vanity.
The subtitle, A Novel without a Hero, is apt because the characters are all flawed to a greater or lesser degree; even the most sympathetic have weaknesses, for example Captain Dobbin, who is prone to vanity and melancholy. The human weaknesses Thackeray illustrates are mostly to do with greed, idleness, and snobbery, and the scheming, deceit and hypocrisy which mask them. None of the characters are wholly evil, though. Even Becky, who is amoral and cunning, is thrown on her own resources by poverty and its stigma. (She's the orphaned daughter of a poor artist.) Thackeray's tendency to highlight faults in all of his characters displays his desire for a greater level of realism in his fiction compared to the rather unlikely or idealised people in many contemporary novels.
The novel is a satire of society as a whole, characterised by hypocrisy and opportunism, but it is not a reforming novel; there is no suggestion that social or political changes, or greater piety and moral reformism could improve the nature of society. It thus paints a fairly bleak view of the human condition. This bleak portrait is continued with Thackeray's own role as an omniscient narrator, one of the writers best known for using the technique. He continually offers asides about his characters and compares them to actors and puppets, but his scorn goes even as far as his readers; accusing all who may be interested in such "Vanity Fairs" as being either "of a lazy, or a benevolent, or a sarcastic mood".
The work is often compared to the other great historical novel which covered the Napoleonic wars: Tolstoy's War and Peace. While Tolstoy's work has a greater emphasis on the historical detail and the effect the war has upon his protagonists, Thackeray instead uses the conflict as more of a backdrop to the lives of his characters. The momentous events on the continent do not always have an equally important influence on the behaviors of Thackeray's characters. Rather their faults tend to compound over time. This is in contrast to the redemptive power conflict has on the characters in War and Peace. For Thackeray, the Napoleonic wars as a whole can be thought of as one more of the vanities expressed in the title.
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