- Series: Penguin Clothbound Classics
- Hardcover: 912 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics (August 27, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141199547
- ISBN-13: 978-0141199542
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 2.1 x 8.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 427 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #696,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Vanity Fair (Penguin Clothbound Classics) Hardcover – August 27, 2013
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About the Author
William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) was born and educated to be a gentleman but gambled away much of his fortune while at Cambridge. He trained as a lawyer before turning to journalism. He was a regular contributor to periodicals and magazines and Vanity Fair was serialised in Punch in 1847-8. John Carey is Professor of English at Oxford University. He has written on Dickens and Thackeray.
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The Kindle version Vanity Fair - Full Version (Illustrated and Annotated) (Literary Classics Collection Book 44) had plenty of footnotes, the most I could find in any Kindle version. Without them I would have been lost at times as to the meaning of certain references. There are also some typos, but not enough to destroy reading enjoyment. Also, this version has the original illustrations by the author.
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.