|05-03-2008, 08:46 AM||#1|
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Thackeray, William Makepeace: Vanity Fair (Illustrated). v1, 3 May 2008
Description from Amazon:
"Vanity Fair", Thackeray's panoramic, satirical saga of corruption at all levels of English society, was published in 1847 but set during the Napoleonic Wars. It chronicles the lives of two women who could not be more different: Becky Sharp, an orphan whose only resources are her vast ambitions, her native wit, and her loose morals; and her schoolmate Amelia Sedley, a typically naive Victorian heroine, the pampered daughter of a wealthy family. Becky's fluctuating fortunes eventually bring her to an affair with Amelia's dissolute husband; when he is killed at Waterloo, Amelia and her child are left penniless, while Becky and her husband Rawdon Crawley rise in the world, managing to lead a high life in London solely on the basis of their shrewdness.(The chapter entitled "How to Live on Nothing" is a classic.) Thackeray's subtitle, "A Novel Without a Hero," is understating the case; his view of humanity in this novel is distinctly bleak and deliberately antiheroic. Critics of the time misunderstood the book, decrying it as (among other things) vicious, vile, and odious.
Fully illustrated with Thackeray's original pen and ink illustrations.
It's interesting to note that Vanity Fair was one of the first examples of what's called the "multi-plot" novel, which became hugely popular between the late 1840s and the mid 1870s. This is a type of novel in which two or more entirely separate groups of characters have their stories told, with the author eventually bringing everything together to form a conclusion in which everyone "participates".
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