- Paperback: 736 pages
- Publisher: Barnes & Noble Classics; d edition (November 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1593080719
- ISBN-13: 978-1593080716
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (360 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,451,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Vanity Fair (Barnes & Noble Classics) Paperback – November 1, 2003
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Top customer reviews
This book has somehow both, not aged well at all, and is still tremendously relevant. I say that, because I think a quarter of the dialogue is written in French, and laced with other French terms. At a time when probably lots of people spoke French, that was fine. The extent of my understanding of French comes from that Christina Aguilera song in Moulin Rouge. That's not a joke. That's pretty much all I know. Which made this a painful push to the finish, because I was too lazy to google all the French terms or highlight them in my kindle for a translation (whose French skills are also pretty shoddy). Lastly, Thackeray wrote in several accents of English, including regional British accents, Irish, Scottish, German, and on and on and on. Which made my already limited understanding of early 19th century terms even more difficult to translate. Hence the 10 days to finish.
I say it's still relevant, because I have a sad feeling that high society (not limited to the UK) still acts very much this way. Mind you, I know nothing of high society, but when I see even the poorest people out and about flashing around the newest iPhone, it sort of speaks to me about Becky's and Rawdon's entire story line. And wasn't there some upset awhile back when Prince William was courting Kate Middleton, because Kate wasn't royal enough? I don't know. But if anyone ever writes a modern day Vanity Fair, I'd be very much inclined to read it and pay another visit to that sad little town.
As for the book itself, well, like I said, it was painful to read, and not just because half of it was above my comprehension level. I was only at 40% finished and already asking myself "Can this be over yet?" It was a painfully slow read. Some paragraphs the author was just listing names and names of Lords and Ladies attending parties. Or of the many many people shunning Becky Sharpe.
Which brings me to another point. The stupid names. I can't tell you Pitt Crawley, from Baronet Crawley, from Sir Crawley, from Bute Crawley. I do know Rawdon, and that's it. But when half the women are referred to as Mrs. Osborne or Misses Osborne or Mrs. Osborne (George's wife Amelia) I really don't know what the heck is going on.
Some characters were introduced with no introduction as to how they fit in the story. Some characters got lengthy introductions only to disappear without contributing anything of note to the actual story. Tapeworm for example, whose name I only remember because it was so ridiculous and sounds like an infection, had almost an entire chapter dedicated to his comings and goings and knowings, just so he could later tell Dobbin that Becky was no good, which we all already knew.
I didn't hate this book. But I was just so bored most of the time. Vanity Fair: a Novel without a Hero. Well novels without heroes make for boring novels. And I disagree on the without a hero part, I think Dobbin was very much the hero. But he was so terribly dull, that I'm guessing that's why he didn't get that title role.
I'm giving it three stars anyway, because like I said, I think it's all still relevant and serves up lots of food for thought. It did have a great ending, and I was pretty much glued to that last chapter. But I also think 300 pages could have been cut without an ounce of the meaning being lost. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who loves those 19th century greats like Dickens, Austen, and the Bronte sisters. You might glean more from it than I.
This is a long, long book. When I started reading it I was living in Arizona with no plans to move. By the time I finished the book this week, I had been a resident of Minnesota for almost three months. And I'm not a slow reader. It isn't the most sprawling Victorian novel I've read (The Way of All Flesh felt a lot longer and involved many more generations and Wives and Daughters: An Everyday Story, another great serial novel, was also pretty meandering), but it is certainly in the category.
If you have a willingness to immerse yourself in an author's world for an extended period of time, you will probably enjoy this novel. It helps, however, to also have an appetite for harsh social commentary. It doesn't seem as if the author likes anybody very much. Even the characters who are initially appealing turn out to have serious character flaws. Readers who want to "like" characters should probably keep looking.
On the whole, I thought this novel was an excellent read. The author's wit, while not as sharp as Dickens at his best, is enjoyable. The frequent authorial injections, while an old-fashioned technique, were delivered with a sensibility that was quite modern. The story didn't turn out at all as I expected it would.
If you have an appetite for a long novel with realistic characters, I highly recommend this book. I liked it enough to want to check out more of the author's work. Comparing him to authors like Austen isn't really fair. He was really working in a completely different way, with the same elements of social satire, but on a much longer scale and in a much darker vein.
Most recent customer reviews
This lengthy expose of early Nineteenth Century British society requires both pertinacity and dedication to complete.Read more