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Vanity Fair

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  89,847 Ratings  ·  2,356 Reviews
The classic by William Thackeray. "If she did not wish to lead a virtuous life, at least she desired to enjoy a character for virtue, and we know that no lady in the genteel world can possess this desideratum, until she has put on a train and feathers and has been presented to her Sovereign at Court. From that august interview they come out stamped as honest women. The Lor ...more
Paperback, 564 pages
Published 2009 by CreateSpace (first published 1847)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kelly
"But as we are to see a great deal of Amelia, there is no harm in saying, at the outset of our acquaintance, that she was a dear little creature. And a great mercy it is, both in life and in novels, which (and the latter especially) abound in villains of the most sombre sort that we are to have for a companion so guileless and good natured a person. As she is not a heroine, there is no need to describe her person; indeed I am afraid that her nose was rather too short than otherwise and her cheek ...more
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
Here I am, 54 years old, and for the very first time reading William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair. "Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero." I disagree with Thackeray. The 'Hero' of Vanity Fair is the steadfast and stalwart William Dobbin; of that there is no doubt. This novel is not the coming of age, or bildungsroman, of Becky Sharp. No, Miss Rebecca Sharp sprang from the womb enlivened with her desire to claw her way to the top. She can't help it, and nor should she; is she really any diffe ...more
Apatt
Jul 17, 2016 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vanity Fair is a big surprise for me. I was expecting a story about the trial and tribulations of a couple of plucky lady friends what I discovered was a witty, satirical novel that made me laugh several times, engaged my attention always and even moving at times.

On the surface Vanity Fair is a story of the two main characters Becky Sharp and Amelia Sedley, two childhood friends from the opposite ends of the moral and intellectual spectrum. Becky is ambitious, conniving and smart, Amelia is humb
...more
Jean
Written in 1848, Vanity Fair is an excellent satire of English society in the early 19th Century. Thackeray states several times that it is a novel "without a hero", and at a couple of points tries to claim that Amelia, a good person but who inevitably comes across as rather wishy-washy, is the heroine. But we all know that a "bad" girl or boy is infinitely more interesting than a "good" girl or boy, so I suspect Thackeray of dissembling even here. Becky Sharp is out and out the anti-hero(ine) ...more
Grace Tjan
Spoilers!



Miss Rebecca Sharp's Guide to the Regency Society


1. If a young lady is not born into either rank or fortune, she will be looked down upon by good society and forced to exist in a humiliating dependency on others for life, unless the said young lady is willing, nay, not merely willing, but most strenuously strive to improve her situation.

2. If the said young lady, despite being a poor orphan, happens to have the good fortune of being admitted into an exclusive academy for young ladies a
...more
Emily
May 16, 2007 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I realize that I'm not making friends here by only giving what is considered a masterful piece of literature what amounts to a "meh" review but that's really how I felt about this book.

On a small scale, I thought the writing was too long-winded. This is not a fancy story and it could have been told more concisely. I was mostly bored reading it.

On a bigger scale, I had serious issues with the heroine. Rebecca is the type of woman who has always made my stomach churn in anger and to ask me to sym
...more
matt
Ok, ok...I'm reading this as a break between books for classes in Grad School. Is that the dorkiest thing you could ever imagine? Yes. It is. It just is.

But the first two pages, the author's introduction....greatest two pages of introductory prose I've ever seen. Better than Kafka, better than Nabokov, better than whatever. Fucking brilliant- vivid, funny, rambunctious, wise, sarcastic, immortally satirical. I was hooked each time I picked up the book and read through it. Sometimes there's that
...more
Robert
Jan 04, 2015 Robert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Excessively Long Book Syndrome: It takes ages to read and it's more than a 100 years old, therefore it must be great, right? Wrong! So wrong, in this case, that the editor's claim that it "has strong claims to be the greatest novel in the English language" is laughable. It's not even the greatest such novel of its century by a huge stretch - seriously, the best works of Hardy, the Brontes and Austen are all better by a country mile, not least because they don't carry such a ridiculous weight of ...more
Russell
May 10, 2012 Russell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thackeray's opus is a wonder. Long, yes, but so very good in so many ways.

He's part Oscar Wilde, part Jonathan Swift, with a dash of Dickens, but all his own voice.

Since the story is so long and sprawling, I only jotted down a few notes on my impressions.

* He breaks the 4th wall, some times with savage glee, yanking it down making you look at yourself and the characters in a new light. Other times he does it with delicacy, sliding back the wall and making you feel like it's just him and you in t
...more
John Purcell
Jun 18, 2010 John Purcell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Naïve
Make sure that you read William Thackeray’s novel Vanity Fair in public, not in the hope that someone may spot you reading a classic, but so that you may see the characters of this wonderfully perceptive (and prophetic) novel wandering about in the flesh. Vanity Fair is populated not by characters but by real people and thus, will never date.

Thackeray is masterful, he allows his characters the freedom to do as they please; they are autonomous and must make decisions on their own, as must we all.
...more
Edward
Dec 30, 2014 Edward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Abbreviations
Introduction
Chronology of Thackeray's Life and Works
Select Reading List
A Note on the Text


--Vanity Fair

Notes
Appendix: Parody
Textual Variants
Jessica
Jun 26, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jessica by: these girls at a party
First things first: Don't get this edition! I recently attended my college reunion. Whilst ambling idly around the green lawns of that hallowed institution, I had chance to encounter my most distinguished and beloved professor of English. Exalted that I happened to be dandling Thackeray's baby on my knee (instead of the glossy monthly version of Vanity Fair, as is more common with me), with sparkling eyes and an enchanting smile I thrust my copy before his erudite and discerning nose. "My favori ...more
Sparrow
You should probably read this book because it is pretty hilarious. If you don’t want to, though – if you’re a wuss about page length and the words Waterloo and Wellington aren’t enough to overcome it – there are some acceptable alternatives about which I will gladly tell you now. While the feature film was TERRIBLE, COMPLETELY SPOILED THE STORY, and didn’t pay attention to ANY of the jokes (shaking my fist at that ruiner, Mira Nair!), the A&E miniseries is really good. Like, really, really g ...more
El
There was a girl I knew in school that made my formative years (for this purpose I'm considering the "formative years" to be 11-14) a bloody hell. She was a nasty, manipulative, cruel girl who, unfortunately for me, also had the luck of being beautiful and popular. She was wretched to the little people, and I was a little person. She was mean to me but I so wanted her to be my friend because I thought if I was her friend and a part of her circle, then everything would be okay. Life would be perf ...more
Mariel
Mar 23, 2011 Mariel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: getaway car
Recommended to Mariel by: six in the morning the walls close in
THIS BOOK IS ABOUT A GIRL WHO WAS ALIVE AT THE WRONG TIME.
Madeline
Dec 15, 2008 Madeline rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-list, ugh
According to the description on the back of my copy, this book is "deliciously satirical." If that means the book is supposed to be taken as a joke, then I definitely read it the wrong way. Maybe I should try rereading it while repeating under my breath, "It's Oscar Wilde, it's Oscar Wilde, it's Oscar Wilde" until I see that it's funny, but frankly I'd rather not.
Here, presented in simple list form, are the reasons I disliked this book:
-William Makepeace Thackeray is a condescending ass. Maybe
...more
Sally Howes
"Which of us is there can tell how much vanity lurks in our warmest regard for others, and how selfish our love is? ... He [Mr. Osborne] firmly believed that everything he did was right, that he ought, on all occasions, to have his own way, and like the sting of a wasp or serpent, his hatred rushed out, armed and poisonous, against anything like opposition. He was proud of his hatred, as of everything else; always to be right, always to trample forward and never to doubt: are not these the great ...more
Alex
Vanity Fair is sometimes called the best British novel ever written, but it's totally not. Middlemarch is way better. Honestly, VF's not even in the top ten. So why do people love it so much? Because of Becky Sharp. Which is funny, because she's not what it was supposed to be about.

Becky Sharp is to Thackeray as Satan is to Milton. The argument has been made in both cases that the author secretly intended us to love their most memorable characters, but that's not true - or at least it's not that
...more
Giovanna
Jul 23, 2015 Giovanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Il mio benevolo proposito è questo, amici e compagni: guidarvi attraverso i vari spazi della Fiera di Vanità, tra negozi e spettacoli, nel più sfolgorante insieme di rumori e di spensieratezza, per poi tornare tutti a casa alla propria triste solitudine."

Era da parecchio tempo che non leggevo un classico. Avete presente quando, tutto a un tratto, non potete soffrire qualcosa che amate? Ecco, a me è successo così. Volevo leggere questo e quello e quell'altro ancora, volevo iniziare a leggere ser
...more
F.R.
Aug 28, 2011 F.R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ah, what a breath of sweet relief Becky Sharp is! If the sensitive bibliophile reads a Dickens or a Wilkie Collins (or numerous other writers of that day), he or she will swiftly become weary of the insipid, blonde haired heroines. They exist seemingly as pure and virtuous paragons, to be loved deeply by the hero, but to have very little personality behind that angelic air. Literature of the Nineteenth century is full of idealised women, portrayed without any warts or foibles and all the duller ...more
Heather
I've wanted to read this book for a while and I am so glad I finally did. I really loved it! Although long, I never felt bogged down with the story and every chapter advanced the story along, something occasionally lacking in lengthy novels of this era.
My favourite character was of course Becky Sharp. I am glad I'm not friends with her but she was such a change from the usual slightly dull female Victorian heroine.
In contrast, Amelia was a stereotypical 'good girl' who rarely did anything out
...more
Issicratea
I read Vanity Fair as part of my occasional series of “forgotten classics”—meaning not classics that the rest of the world has forgotten, but classics that I have practically forgotten myself, having first read them several aeons ago.

It was an interesting experience to revisit this novel (interesting in the euphemistic sense of not entirely pleasurable.) There were some things I liked about it, certainly. There’s something attractively mobile about Vanity Fair. I like the way you’re never quite
...more
Yani
Apr 16, 2016 Yani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
¡Lo terminé! Fue una larga experiencia de lectura pero no puedo quejarme: me gustó muchísimo y se va a mis favoritos. En cuanto pueda le hago la reseña más digna posible.
Suvi
A reference to a town called Vanity in John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1678), Vanity Fair is an acerbic examination of superficial attachment to money and societal position, in addition to generally parading the rotten qualities we humans have. A nightmare to those who seek relatable characters in their novels, but delicious if you're entertained by people's stupidity and by following what lengths they're prepared to go with their selfishness. I'd have hated to be enemies with Thackeray, b ...more
Emily
Apr 12, 2008 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book quickly became on of my all-time favorites. I was surprised that I was never assigned the book in college, but a few years ago I realized that it was one of those titles that any self-respecting Anglophile should have on their shelf. The story starts out rather slowly, but you suddenly realize that you're 150 pages in and are completely engrossed! I enjoy how different the novel is from everything else you would expect to read from the time period (with the exception of Tristram Shandy ...more
Simona Bartolotta
Jul 23, 2015 Simona Bartolotta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 1800
«Il mio benevolo proposito è questo, amici e compagni: guidarvi attraverso i vari spazi della Fiera di Vanità, tra negozi e spettacoli, nel più sfolgorante insieme di rumori e di spensieratezza, per poi tornare tutti a casa alla propria triste solitudine».

Avevo in parte dimenticato quanto di salutare e dolce ci sia nella lettura di un classico. Dopo averlo scritto, mi rendo conto che "dimenticato" non è per niente la parola più adatta: mi riferisco a un sentimento che, una volta provato, non si
...more
Jane
Where I got the book: audiobook downloaded from Audible.

Well, I finally read Vanity Fair, and it took an audiobook to do it. This was written in an era when a novelist could truly indulge himself with long backstories, explanations, scene-setting and bunny trails, and Thackeray makes full use of that power. As a story, the tale of Becky Sharpe and her moral opposite, the rather nauseatingly devoted Amelia, it's good stuff; although, of course, I ended up far preferring wicked Becky. As a portrai
...more
Margaret
I had a lovely Everyman's edition of Vanity Fair for several years, just sitting on my bookshelf unread, looking reproachfully at me. Finally, I decided to take it down and read it, thus filling an enormous gap in my Victorian-era reading. I fear that I can now only be disappointed in Thackeray's other books (though I intend to read them anyway), because I can't imagine anything better than Vanity Fair.

The plot does sprawl a little, but the characters are so wonderfully realized that it doesn't
...more
Jamie Collins
Enjoyed this very much. It was quite funny in places. It's indeed "A Novel Without a Hero", but I was pretty far into the book before I ceased to root for Becky Sharp. She's very sympathetic in the beginning - her insincerity is hardly damning considering the hypocrisy that surrounds her. There were a couple of places in her early life where a slight change in luck could have made a reasonably honest woman of her. I particularly think that she and the elder Sir Pitt would have suited each other. ...more
Lisa Vegan
This is one of the few books I read for high school English classes that I didn't love. I detested it, actually. My lack of enjoyment reading this book is probably, in part, because I had to read it for an advanced English Shakespeare class. The teacher decided to add this book to our reading list, otherwise consisting of many of William Shakespeare's brilliant plays, which I loved. I couldn't feel any empathy with Becky Sharp and didn't like a thing about her. I'd like to think that if I read t ...more
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I Like Big Books!: August-September Read 10 66 Sep 09, 2015 03:03PM  
Classics for Begi...: Vanity Fair - Chapters 53-67 30 27 Aug 28, 2015 12:48AM  
Classics for Begi...: Vanity Fair - Chapters 36-52 17 20 Aug 21, 2015 02:53PM  
Classics for Begi...: Vanity Fair - Chapters 19-35 40 25 Aug 18, 2015 03:03AM  
Classics for Begi...: Vanity Fair - Chapters 1-18 51 64 Aug 10, 2015 02:27PM  
The Book Vipers: Vanity Fair 27 73 Jul 29, 2015 01:17PM  
Guardian Newspape...: June 2015 - Vanity Fair 26 21 Jul 26, 2015 08:33AM  
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3953
Thackeray, an only child, was born in Calcutta, India, where his father, Richmond Thackeray (1 September 1781 – 13 September 1815), held the high rank of secretary to the board of revenue in the British East India Company. His mother, Anne Becher (1792–1864) was the second daughter of Harriet and John Harman Becher and was also a secretary (writer) for the East India Company.

William had been sent
...more
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