William Makepeace Thackeray á Vanity Fair A Novel without a Hero doc
kindle ¸ Vanity Fair A Novel without a Hero ´ Paperback read ¸ william makepeace thackeray Â A novel that chronicles the lives of two women who could not be different Becky Sharp an orphan whose only resources are her vast ambitions her native wit and her loose moralsWhose only resources are her vast ambitions her native wit and her loose morals; and her schoo 1 I liked the company of Thackeray who is breezy ebullient and cynical about everyone’s motives And he’s very confident too He thinks he knows everything although there’s not a word about how the poor live here that’s not his subject So he’s like the mid 19th century version of Tom Wolfe or Jonathan Franzen two authors among many others who also think they know everything I don’t mind them thinking that It’s a good uality in a writer who’s trying to depict all of society2 An example of his cynical sermonizing – here he waxes forth about our – yours mine postmortem fate Which of the dead are most tenderly and passionately deplored? Those who love the survivors the least I believe The death of a child occasions a passion of grief and frantic tears such as your end brother reader will never inspire The death of an infant which scarce knew you which a week’s absence from you would have caused to forget you will strike you down than the loss of your closest friend and if you are old as some reader of this may be or shall be – old and rich or old and poor – you may one day be thinking for yourself – “These people are very good round about me; but they won’t grieve too much when I am gone I am very rich and they want my inheritance – or very poor and they are tired of supporting me”3 I can’t believe everyone who has read this has read every page For instance the eight pages of satire about the small German Duchy of Pumpernickel p 726 732 Or the detailed descriptions of charades at upper class parties p 594 601 Mother of God these sections are unreadable This is what drags the rating down to 45 stars 4 Why is this book 800 pages long? Many passages like this The house was dismantled; the rich furniture and effects the awful chandeliers and dreary blank mirrors packed away and hidden the rich rosewood drawing room suite was muffled in straw the carpets were rolled up and corded the small select library of well bound books was stowed into two wine chests and the whole paraphernalia rolled away in several enormous vans to the Pantechnicon where they were to lie until Georgy’s majority 5 The author breaks the fourth wall all the time as they liked to do in the early ish days of novelling before such stuff was frowned upon as being uncouth and inartistic So on p 296 we get In the course of the evening Rawdon got a little family note from his wife which although he crumpled it up and burnt it instantly in the candle we had the good luck to read over Rebecca’s shoulder “We” here means the author and the reader And later on page 721 whilst talking about his main characters holidaying in Germany he suddenly announces It was on this very tour that I the present writer of a history of which every word is true had the pleasure to see them first and to make their acuaintance 6 The author is not embarrassed to jump in and comment directly on his characters like this I like to dwell upon this period of her life and to think that she was cheerful and happy You see she has not had too much of that sort of existence as yet and has not fallen in the way of means to educate her tastes or her intelligence She has been domineered over hitherto by vulgar intellects It is the lot of many a woman You wouldn’t get a modern novelist doing any such thing but it’s kind of fun 7 He has a brilliant section called “How to Live Well on Nothing a Year” Essentially you could maintain your place in well to do society by racking up credit extended to you by umpteen tradesmen and servants who would do it because you had a place in well to do society and robbing Peter to pay Paul continually ; plus the wife would inveigle loans out of rich old guys who thought they might have a chance to get something going with her; and the husband would contribute with winnings from cards and billiards It’s a precarious way of life but if you have strong nerves it can be done8 Which leads us to the issue of Becky and her husband Rawdon Becky is the best most interesting character by far Lots of commentators describe her as in some way morally uestionable even “bad” At first this seems uite unjust She has no family she’s as poor as a mouse so she schemes and ducks and dives to land a husband with money This goes awry she gets the husband but he doesn’t get the expected inheritance so she dodges and weaves and figures out how to live well on nothing a year see above In the time honoured way of plots in novels all her maneuvering and manipulating and cajoling and flattering and flashing of bosoms is just about to pay off handsomely when it all goes tits up Not her fault She’s a woman trying to get by in a world where money and position is everything Then she disappears from the novel for a hundred pages or so When we meet her again she’s a fully fledged demimondaine and now you can say her moral bankruptcy has blossomed – Thackeray makes a song and dance about not being able to set down exactly what she’s been up to because this is a family show so he drops hint after hint ending in the possibility of murder All the ambiguity is I suppose understandable; but after it all she’s still the only character with a zest for life in the whole mutton shop9 Meanwhile her husband Rawdon is a military gentleman until he resigns from the Army and then – does nothing Continues with his cardsharping and pool sharking but as for gainful employment raises not one hand And Thackeray who likes to describe most other aspects of these people’s lives ignores this as not worth commenting on Rawdon writes a pitiful letter from debtor’s prison at one point I wasn't brought up like a younger brother but was always encouraged to be extravagant and kep idle And that’s all the explanation you get 10 The subtitle of Vanity Fair is “A Novel without a Hero” meaning that we are not following one particular character and we do not see the story through any one person’s eyes Nor yet really is it that much of a story A couple of women make rash marriages After which there are some ups and downs There was a song in the 1920s called “After You Get What You Want you Don’t Want It” and Thackeray believes people are exactly like that so happy endings and neat bows are not his thing He leaves us with the image of Vanity Fair itself that whirligig of human foolishness rocketing on like a perpetual switchback ride Best thing to do is not get on in the first place the ride is not worth the admission fee but if you’re on then don’t fall off because the drop will be considerable hard on your feelings
kindle ñ Vanity Fair A Novel without a Hero á William Makepeace Thackeray
Lmate Amelia Sedley a typically naive Victorian heroine the pampered daughter of a wealthy fami I finish the book and wonder how to best convert the muddy puddle of my impressions into some kind of a coherent rich picture of a reviewWell what is is imagine an exhibition of of George Cruikshank's drawings or of those of Gilray perhaps there is wit and fun but after a while maybe they are a little wearisome In this it reminds me of when I was a student and sometimes not knowing any better I'd read The Economist eventually I noticed whatever country or problem was discussed the analysis was the same slash public spending liberalise markets and open them to foreign trade as you open a person's chest for open heart surgery and be smug Then I moved on to Private Eye for a while here the message was aside from the staff and readers of that journal that everybody is stupid and stupidly commits stupid acts everything always has been stupid everything always will be This I felt was worse because it was also depressing About that time I suppose I also read Vanity Fair for the first time view spoiler unless I didn't its hard to tie these things down sometimes it was before I had a computer let alone be introduced to Goodreads hide spoiler
epub Vanity Fair A Novel without a Hero
Vanity Fair A Novel without a HeroA novel that chronicles the lives of two women who could not be different Becky Sharp an orphan But as we are to see a great deal of Amelia there is no harm in saying at the outset of our acuaintance that she was a dear little creature And a great mercy it is both in life and in novels which and the latter especially abound in villains of the most sombre sort that we are to have for a companion so guileless and good natured a person As she is not a heroine there is no need to describe her person; indeed I am afraid that her nose was rather too short than otherwise and her cheeks a good deal too round and red for a heroineI just chose this passage randomly out of the first few pages of the novel to illustrate how much I love Thackeray's voice He himself is the best character in the novel To use theatre terminology he definitely breaks the 4th wall into the story uite freuently Reading it is rather like watching the play but with periodic pauses for the playwright to jump up on stage and offer his commentary upon the action and also upon his perceptions of the feelings of those watching his creation Thackeray himself terms the Vanity Fair his comment on society in general a sort of play This might sound annoying to some but really it isn't If you're already reading the book critically I suppose it could also be compared to reading a chunk of a book for class and then stopping to discuss your reactions with a professor determined to make you see things beyond the surface and expose whatever prejudices you might have against the book I loved debating with Thackeray in interpreting scenes and actions The margins are filled with my disagreements or indulgence of his point of view And I almost never write in books It was irresistable in this case It is as interesting trying to draw a portrait of Thackeray's character as it is the rest of them He is sometimes defensive sometimes judgemental of his audience at times uietly insightful at times ironic at times as gleeful as a child at some trick he believes he's played upon us You can just see him cackling over his writing clapping his hands when he thinks of something good and scribbling away furiously into the night He makes the tale seem brightly urgently alive just in the sheer immediacy of his feeling and force of personalityRight As to the story itself? Very solid old fashioned tale of love war betrayal money family All the standards for an epic But in the way it is executed it is anything but standard Particularly for its time It was subtitled the novel without a hero by Thackeray It is a book filled with as the best are very grey characters with motivations and actions sometimes very hard to fathom The epitome of this is of course Becky Sharp the main character if not the heroine of the piece Capable of both acts of great kindness and selflessness and sheer naked cruelty when it suits her it is hard to either condemn or praise the woman in the end I grew to root for her anyway though She's awful she really is but she does seem to learn by the end of the book She changes progresses and all while getting everything she's ever really seemed to want She's ambitious and cutthroat but manages to do well in a world that tries to slap her down at every turn Not that she doesn't deserve it sometimes I will admit There is also a standard sweeping love story for those of you in it for the conventional aspects The above described Amelia is involved in that plotlineAlso? This book has the best the longest the most throughly researched and detailed description of the battle of Waterloo that you are likely to find A huge chunk of the book is devoted to that day and the reaction to that day and it is as epic a war novel as one could hope to find for that space of timeIn some ways I feel like Thackeray was trying to encompass his century as a whole not just the very specific time of the Napoleonic wars He deals with class money ambition war roles and rights of women uestions of morality and times that inevitably change and change again pushing the old world and the old ways into ever faster irrelevance Just as the 19th century did I think Becky Sharp might well be a fitting symbol of the whole century she wants to rise high in society she wants as much money as she can get her hands on she wants the appearance of morality but doesn't much care for the actuality she is from the lower class and spends the book working her way up the ladder tooth and nail through representatives of the old guard at any cost to herself or others And yet she still holds sentimental feelings for Amelia for her husband she does what she thinks is best for her son however controversial that might be and at whatever cost in pride and she cannot uite bear to be completely alone I don't know I'm really just remembering things I wrote down when I read this over two years ago re piecing together theories so I hope you'll forgive me if they're a wee incoherentThere is to it than that but I do not think that any review of reasonable length can encompass everything in this book particularly when I've already rambled about my favorite things for so long and things are already this disorganized Fitting I suppose in such a merrily chaotic book So I'll just leave you with the uote that I think explains and drives much of the action and is one of the major points of the novel Vanitas Vanitatium Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? Or having it is satisfied?