Vanity Fair (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:...
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Vanity Fair (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

“I think I could be a good woman, if I had five thousand a year,” observes beautiful and clever Becky Sharp, one of the wickedest—and most appealing—women in all of literature. Becky is just one of the many fascinating figures that populate William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel Vanity Fair, a wonderfully satirical panorama of upper-middle-class life and manners in London at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Scorned for her lack of money and breeding, Becky must use all her wit, charm and considerable sex appeal to escape her drab destiny as a governess. From London’s ballrooms to the battlefields of Waterloo, the bewitching Becky works her wiles on a gallery of memorable characters, including her lecherous employer, Sir Pitt, his rich sister, Miss Crawley, and Pitt’s dashing son, Rawdon, the first of Becky’s misguided sexual entanglements.

Filled with hilarious dialogue and superb characterizations, Vanity Fair is a richly entertaining comedy that asks the reader, “Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?”

Features more than 100 illustrations drawn by Thackeray himself for the initial publication.

Nicholas Dames is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and is the author of Amnesiac Selves: Nostalgia, Forgetting, and British Fiction, 1810–1870, and other commentary on nineteenth-century British and French fiction.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593083656
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 696
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 1.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas Dames is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and is the author of Amnesiac Selves: Nostalgia, Forgetting, and British Fiction, 1810–1870, and other commentary on nineteenth-century British and French fiction.
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Read an Excerpt

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?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 381 )
Rating Distribution

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4 Star

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3 Star

(6)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2008

    The Era of Wit is Over

    Bring back the classics. We need them. Vanity Fair is one of Thackeray's most brilliant works that can compete with the best writings today. It deals principally with the lives of two young women, Miss Sedley and Miss Sharp and what they did after leaving school. It is about their loves, their ambitions, their terribly endearing families and most importantly, their dreams. The book openly and almost brutally describes the selfishness of human nature and the thousand little subtilities of everyday life during that time. Attitude towards women, status in society, the power of money and marriage are recurring themes in this delightful novel. Extremely unique characters like Miss. Crawley, Mr.Osbourne and Captain Dobbin give the book a splendid Dickensian touch. To me, it is an excellent read because like terrorism, it really makes you stop and take a step back.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2010

    Suggestion for People acquiring Electronic Editions

    This book is very long, and the electronic editions, at least the free ones, tend not to include the entire book, so you will likely have to download a couple of editions to get the whole book. The descriptions of the e-books tend not to describe how much or what part of the book is included, so you will have to do some trial and error.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2002

    Cannot Recommend Highly Enough

    The story of blind ambition and blinder honesty manages to be several things at once: it is laugh-out-loud funny and at some points tragic; it is a what-will-happen next potboiler and a philosophical exploration; it offers bleak cynicism and surprising tenderness. Perhaps what helps it to work is the fact that it was published in chapter-long installments, and Thackeray needed to keep the public coming back. But it's much more than just a soap opera. The emotional range is hugely impressive, on occasion it moves from farce to tragedy within a single sentence. The book has a surprisingly modern feel to it, considering its age. With most classics you have to steel yourself a little bit to get through them. This was quite the opposite for me: I looked forward to every opportunity to read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Lauren

    It is the same book Hi-5. Thats y there are 2 of all of us

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Zim

    14th -.-

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2012

    Wierd. Next to read do not buy.

    Wierd

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 4, 2011

    This is not a graphic novel

    It looks like this is miscategorized.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 12, 2010

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