Vanity Fair (Illustrated) and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $8.95
  • Save: $0.90 (10%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 13 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
Want it tomorrow, April 18? Order within and choose One-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all itâ?TMs still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
Add to Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more

Vanity Fair (Barnes & Noble Classics) Paperback


See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from Collectible from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$8.05
$3.90 $0.01 $5.00

Frequently Bought Together

Vanity Fair (Barnes & Noble Classics) + Middlemarch (Penguin Classics)
Price for both: $14.27

Buy the selected items together
  • Middlemarch (Penguin Classics) $6.22

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Big Spring Books
Editors' Picks in Spring Releases
Ready for some fresh reads? Browse our picks for Big Spring Books to please all kinds of readers.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble Classics; d edition (November 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593080719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593080716
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #451,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

From Nicholas Dames's Introduction to Vanity Fair

What kind of a novel is Vanity Fair? Given the bewildering variety of responses that it has elicited since its publication began in January 1847, we might assume that at no time since Thackeray's serial first gained public notice has the answer to that question been obvious. To the novel's first readers, Thackeray's aim seemed puzzling. G. H. Lewes, one of the Victorian period's most able critics, wondered whether Vanity Fair was too embittered to be truly humorous, and too uniformly skeptical to be effectively satirical; Charlotte Brontë, however, dedicated the second edition of Jane Eyre to Thackeray, whom she had never met, and in the process compared the effect of Vanity Fair to that of a Hebrew prophet admonishing the kings of Judah and Israel. That dilemma—whether Vanity Fair is the work of a moral satirist, or a worldly cynic retailing gossip for the diversion of his audience—has haunted efforts to understand Thackeray ever since. In our own time the pendulum has swung closer to the latter sentiment, thanks in no small part to the efforts of more recent novelists and critics to discredit Thackeray's method; E. M. Forster, in his Aspects of the Novel (1927), compared Thackeray's interruptions of his narrative to that of a bar patron offering to buy you a drink in return for some attention to his not quite lucid stories. There have, however, been intriguing testimonies to the contrary. The Trinidadian historian, social critic, and activist intellectual C. L. R. James attested to reading Vanity Fair regularly starting at the age of eight, learning the workings of the British class system while feeling their persistence in his own West Indian milieu; as James later commented, it was to Thackeray, even more than to Marx, that he owed his vocation.

Worldly cynic, righteous prophet, tiresome companion, proto-Marxist social anatomist: the appellations are as contradictory as they are vivid and plausible. What unites these disparate accounts of the novel's effect, however, is their attempt to describe its voice—a narrative style that speaks in a manner utterly unlike the usual Victorian novel. Vanity Fair is Thackeray's masterpiece, his most ambitious and colorful effort, full of characters and scenes memorable in a way his later work could only occasionally recapture; but its most important element, the fact of its presentation that accounts at once for its brilliance and its undeniable difficulty, is the voice of its narrator. Amid a babble of distinctive accents—Becky Sharp's light, cutting wit, Jos Sedley's ponderous inanities, William Dobbin's plain, gentlemanly eloquence—the narrator stands out as the most continually entertaining, and continually protean, of voices. The voice of Vanity Fair's narrator is its great contribution to the history of the English novel, while being nonetheless the most difficult of the novel's aspects to describe fully or accurately. Without the pyrotechnic virtuosity of Dickens's style, or the measured gravitas of George Eliot, Thackeray's narrator speaks with a mixture of tones that might perhaps be the most distinctively modern among the styles of the Victorian novel.

Most evident of all this voice's traits is its undeniable worldliness. As the narrator frequently advertises, he (for this voice is always a male one) has seen the insides of gentlemen's clubs, society dining rooms, auction houses where the effects of bankrupts are sold, foreign courts, respectable and not-so-respectable theaters, boarding schools, tourist hotels, coaching inns, even the chambers of servants. A Londoner, evidently, this narrator can know even the secrets whispered in female drawing rooms; "every person who treads the Pall Mall pavement and frequents the clubs of this metropolis," he blandly announces, "knows, either through his own experience or through some acquaintance with whom he plays at billiards," as much as one need know about the kind of disreputable female who dresses too showily in public and who women refuse to meet. True to his worldly awareness, Thackeray's narrator refuses to spell out the full implications of his description—how might these women earn the money to afford those dresses?—preferring instead to let implication, and a knowing smile, do the work. The innocent and ignorant, "the apprentices in the Park" or "the squire's wife in Somersetshire, who reads of their doings in the Morning Post," will remain uninstructed in this curious aspect of metropolitan society. As for the narrator and his readers, surely they know enough without being explicitly instructed. "Men living about London," we are told, "are aware of these awful truths." We are in the hands, therefore, of a discreet and rather jaundiced narrative voice, acquainted with—and perhaps already tired of—all the restless machinations of urban strivers. Vanity Fair is a novel full of scandal, including fraud, petty deceit, extramarital complications, and (possibly) murder, but these putative outrages to Victorian notions of social decency are never narrated as surprises. Instead, Thackeray presents them to us with a half-amused, half-disgusted species of boredom, as if to say: Surely you weren't so naïve as to pretend this wasn't the case?


More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
11
4 star
2
3 star
2
2 star
0
1 star
0
See all 15 customer reviews
Note that Modern Library Classics full-size paperbacks are also often excellent.
Acontius
As bad as Rebecca is, as dishonest, as lying, as thieving, as heartless, as conniving, she at least feels the need to pretend to the world to be good.
Evelina
It is written tongue firmly in cheek and with delightful sarcasm and satire and cynicism.
H. Mortensen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Acontius VINE VOICE on August 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
Scholars can make careers out of analyzing this wonderful novel, so I'll comment on the edition I'm reading, the Barnes and Noble full-size paperback. The text size is just within the range of "comfortable" for a middle-aged reader, a feature not easy to find in the great classics.

The footnotes and endnotes greatly enhanced my reading experience, as did the insightful introduction.

I hope more publishers realize that modern readers want to tackle the classics, but we do need help in the form of notes explaining foreign phrases and cultural terms and allusions from another land and time. And we need text large enough to make the reading a pleasure rather than a squinting endurance test. This B&N edition is a winner.

Lord knows there are enough hungry doctors of literature willing to annotate and introduce the classics!

Note that Modern Library Classics full-size paperbacks are also often excellent. In any case, if text size is an issue, better try to examine the actual book before deciding, because even these publishers have a few titles with tiny print.
3 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
Greed, gold-digging and deception sit at the heart of "Vanity Fair." It's no joke that it's subtitled "a novel without a hero" -- William Makepeace Thackeray mercilessly skewered the pretentions and flaws of the upper class all throughout it. The result is a gloriously witty social satire.

It opens with two young women departing from a ladies' academy: dull, sweet Amelia (rich) and fiery sharp-witted Rebecca (poor). Becky Sharp is a relentless social climber, and her first effort to rise "above her station" is by trying to get Amelia's brother to marry her -- an effort thwarted by Amelia's fiancee. So instead she gets married to another family's second son, Rawdon Crawley.

Unfortunately, both young couples quickly get disinherited and George is killed. But Becky is determined to live the good life she has worked and married for -- she obtains jewels and money from admiring gentlemen, disrupting her marriage. But a little thing like a tarnished reputation isn't enough to keep Becky down...

"Vanity Fair" is actually a lot more complex than that, with dozens of little subplots and complicated character relationships. Reading it a few times is necessary to really absorb all of it, since it is not just a look at the two women in the middle of the book, but at the upper (and sometimes lower) social strata of the nineteenth century.

The main flaw of the book is perhaps that it sprawls too much -- there's always a lot of stuff going on, not to mention a huge cast of characters, and Thackeray sometimes drops the ball when it comes to the supporting characters and their little plots. It takes a lot of patience to absorb all of this. However... it's worth it.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By P. Craigo on August 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
I assumed this book was some tedious classic, and had never felt any pull to read it. Its immense size and the century of its creation were daunting-- too long, too many words, too long ago. I took it along however on a trip to England and was enthralled. I "could not put it down", i was so drawn into the story and the lovely clear writing. Mr. Thackeray was a wise man who deeply understood a wide range of personalities in all layers of society. A tremendous and lasting achievement in fiction. Almost 200 hundred years old, but fresh and modern in its sympathy for the human spirit and unsparing depiction of social conventions. And very very funny.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anthony on February 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
I really didn't know that much about this book before I started reading. I thought it was just a magazine for most of my life. I started reading the novel on a whim and found this to be one of the most engaging books I've ever read. I say that Thackery is eye to eye with Dickens as far as writing ability. The characters in Vanity Fair actually have a unique personality and the plot has enough twists and turns to keep my modern attention span held.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Evelina on November 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
Rebecca is worse than I remembered from first reading the book in college. A really bad mother, she "hates" her son (Thackeray's word) precisely because she is supposed to love him and she does not. Thackeray is really good on how people turn on people to whom they are obligated, whether by virtue of relationship or by virtue of owing a debt of gratitude for generosity and kindness, the hater justifies his or her lack of heart and ingratitude in making the other out to be the villain. Thackeray is really good on "no good deed goes unpunished".

does Rebecca murder Jos? That's the impression I got.

As bad as Rebecca is, as dishonest, as lying, as thieving, as heartless, as conniving, she at least feels the need to pretend to the world to be good. Her mask slips when she has no need to impress people because they have no power, as when she is mean to Lady Jane. But mostly she feels she must be a hypocrite. That shows the power of morality in those days. You had to at least "assume the virtue" though you had it not (to paraphrase Shakespeare?).

After the big Lord Steyne scandal, Rebecca is exposed. Her attempts to rehabilitate herself fail because as soon as people find out about her, they don't want to associate with her anymore. Today, everyone would say, poor Rebecca is a victim. There would be no scandal or disgrace attached to her, though she were ten times worse.

Thackeray says perhaps with $5,000 a year Rebecca could be a good woman. That sum itself, enormous in those days, shows the lie of that statement. I can be a good woman if I have a million a year, it is like saying. As we see in the book most people are not rich yet not bad like Rebecca.

Dobbin is better than I remembered. He starts out good but stupid.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Product Images from Customers

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search
ARRAY(0xa2723b10)

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?