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The Amazon Book Review
Check out The Amazon Book Review, our editors' fresh new blog featuring interviews with authors, book reviews, quirky essays on book trends, and regular columns by our editors. Explore now
A Review Of _Vanity Fair_, by William Makepeace Thackeray
I started reading _Vanity Fair_ a few months ago, because I thought it was a Great Classic of English literature, and that reading it might be an interesting experience. By the time I had gotten about 30 or 40 pages into it, I was beginning to realize that it was shaping up to be possibly the most boring thing I have ever read in my entire life. Only strict discipline, and determination to finish what I had started, got me through to the end of the book.
Thackeray has described the book as " a novel without a hero." A better description might be "words without a story." In the entire 753 page novel, I don't think there were more than about 30 pages in which anything was happening that was worth paying any attention. Thackeray didn't have the modern concept of trying to hold the reader's attention. He didn't have to compete with television or radio. It's pretty obvious that he was getting paid by the word.
This book might be thought of as the English _War and Peace_. Just as Tolstoy told the story of the Napoleonic wars from the point of view of ordinary Russians, so does Thackeray tell the same story from the point of view of ordinary English families. Just as czar Alexander I was an important character in Tolstoy, so is the Duke of Wellington an important character in Thackeray.
One of the book's most annoying features is Thackeray's habit of interrupting the story to tell us his opinions. Tolstoy, of course, frequently did the same thing. Apparently, this is what passed for good writing in the 19th century.
Oh, by the way, if this review seems somewhat disoriented and rambling, then that makes it a fair review. The book is the same way.Read more ›
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