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Vanity Fair: A Novel Without A Hero (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

William Makepeace Thackeray , John Sutherland
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)

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Vanity Fair: A Novel Without A Hero (Oxford World's Classics) Vanity Fair: A Novel Without A Hero (Oxford World's Classics) 4.2 out of 5 stars (90)
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Book Description

17 Jun 1999 Oxford World's Classics
This edition of one of the greatest social satires of the English language reproduces the text of the Oxford Thackeray and includes all of Thackeray's own illustrations.


Product details

  • Paperback: 1008 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (17 Jun 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192834436
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192834430
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13 x 5.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,147,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Useful notes, compact serviceable text, affordable price."--Dorice Elliot, Johns Hopkins

Book Description

'I think I could be a good woman if I had five thousand a year' Vanity Fair --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharpe and Fair 15 May 2007
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Greed, gold-digging and deception sit at the heart of "Vanity Fair." It's no joke that it's subtitled "a novel without a hero" -- William Makepeace Thackeray mercilessly skewered the pretentions and flaws of the upper class all throughout it. The result is a gloriously witty social satire.

It opens with two young women departing from a ladies' academy: dull, sweet Amelia (rich) and fiery sharp-witted Rebecca (poor). Becky Sharp is a relentless social climber, and her first effort to rise "above her station" is by trying to get Amelia's brother to marry her -- an effort thwarted by Amelia's fiancee. So instead she gets married to another family's second son, Rawdon Crawley.

Unfortunately, both young couples quickly get disinherited and George is killed. But Becky is determined to live the good life she has worked and married for -- she obtains jewels and money from admiring gentlemen, disrupting her marriage. But a little thing like a tarnished reputation isn't enough to keep Becky down...

"Vanity Fair" is actually a lot more complex than that, with dozens of little subplots and complicated character relationships. Reading it a few times is necessary to really absorb all of it, since it is not just a look at the two women in the middle of the book, but at the upper (and sometimes lower) social strata of the nineteenth century.

The main flaw of the book is perhaps that it sprawls too much -- there's always a lot of stuff going on, not to mention a huge cast of characters, and Thackeray sometimes drops the ball when it comes to the supporting characters and their little plots. It takes a lot of patience to absorb all of this. However... it's worth it.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure class 18 Oct 2006
Format:Paperback
It really is that good. How much you like this book will depend to a large extent on how much you like the Victorian novel. If you like Dickens, the Brontes, Elliot and the like, then you are in for a real treat, because Thackeray is the best of the lot. Less verbose and rambling than Dickens, less sentimental than Elliot, more ironic than the Brontes, Thackeray is a supreme writer of English - ironic, cheerful and pessimistic by turns, sometimes tender and affectionate then cruel and caustic, he maintains a narrative control that invites the reader to share his moral vision of the hypocrisies and absurdities of Victorian England, and the world we all inhabit.

Vanity Fair has that universal quality of the best fiction - it enables you to see the world in a new way. An hour reading this novel is time spent with a true comedian, someone who sees the grotesque, humorous, admirable, cruel, stubborn, heroic, gentle etc reality of the human condition and can tell it in chapters of the best English since Shakespeare.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mammoth But Brilliant Read 14 Oct 2010
By Stracs TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
As some of the other reviewers have already stated, the text in this edition of Vanity Fair is very small, so for those who may struggle with such small text I would advise you to buy a different edition. However, if this is not a problem for you then this 2 Penguin classics edition is a bargain for such a mammoth novel. I have been thinking of reading Vanity Fair for some time but have been put off in the past by the sheer length(this edition being approx 650 pages of very small text!), but having some time off work sick I thought I would take the plunge and finally read it. I am so glad I did.

Thackeray's most successful novel is truly an epic saga of the intertwining lives of two schoolgirls and their acquaintances. I wont summerise the story here as others have already done so, and I wouldnt want to spoil it for the reader. Suffice it to say that the story is compelling and gripping from the start. The story is of course complex, given the length of the book, but Thackeray succeeds in drawing together all the strands very successfully although there are one or two characters I would have loved to see more of. The story is easy to follow but not predictable in the way literature can sometimes be, making this a real page turner.

Being a Regency period novel, the language can take a little bit of getting used to, especially if you are new to 19th century literature. However, it is worth persisting with it as once you get used to it the prose is beautifully composed and the story fascinating. My only criticism of the novel would be that sometimes Thackeray seems to go off on a tangent which is not necessary for the story and prolongs the novel by perhaps 30-40 pages too many. However, this is far outweighed by the quality of the story and the characters within.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I read it with a smile on my face 21 July 2009
Format:Paperback
You may have read all the other reviews and still be wondering if you should tackle this 800 page Victorian novel. After all, it will involve a lot of reading hours. So let me stress one thing above all else: it is a very funny book. Repeat: it is a very funny book. Not laugh-out-loud gags but page after page of delicious irony as Thackeray dissects the follies of his characters. I chuckled away for weeks and it was a real loss when I finished the final page.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars is it really that good? 26 Aug 2011
Format:Paperback
I have just had another go at this classic novel, using the dog-eared Penguin edition that I read 36 years ago. I remember finding it tough going then and this time around I gave up on it. I tried to keep going - twice I gave up but returned to it, but three-fifths of the way through I'd had enough.
Reading the reviews posted here it's clear that VF is very dear to many people and to some extent I can see why - the authorial voice is so intelligent, perceptive and ironic. But the book is very long, rambling and episodic. And while Thackeray starts by being critical of all his characters, a splendid antidote to Victorian sentimentality, he seems to become captivated by the truly awful Amelia, showing increasing sympathy to her as he goes on. There are some chapters that are worthy of Dickens in their slushy embrace of her charms. And I don't really see why readers find Becky so wonderful - she is monumentally selfish!
Well, each to her/his own. I do wonder though how many people will continue to read this novel except as a set text. It creaks so much.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece of satirical social comedy
A masterpiece of 19th century English writing. If you don't know it already read it! I read it first age 11 and at every re-reading over many years there is more to discover. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Pat Cross
5.0 out of 5 stars Book download
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Published 7 days ago by sheilamaryb
5.0 out of 5 stars Really funny with characters who are recognisable today.
The humour, along with the depth of feeling of some of the characters, make this a deeply moving and enjoyable novel. Thackeray is not quite like any of his contemporaries. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Mrs Melanie Courtney-Holt
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic!
Brilliant story, beautifully written and very witty. Anyone who appreciates Jane Austen will also enjoy this. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mrs P A Woffinden
4.0 out of 5 stars wonderfully written, to make one reluctant to reach the end.
Though Becky was, no doubt, a very sinful young woman, yet Thackeray manages to keep up our interest in her doings without outraging our attachment for her.
Published 1 month ago by Edis
5.0 out of 5 stars White Knight says read
Absolutely wonderful. Bought this on Kindle after watching Reece Withsrspoon and the late Bob Hoskins in a creditable film version. Read more
Published 1 month ago by White Knight
5.0 out of 5 stars First Thackeray book I've read
I had read nearly every Dickens book and felt that I should try some Thackeray. I enjoyed it immensely as it is written with great humour and gives a good insight into the class... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Caroline Gale
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I read this book on my Kindle and it gives me so many memories of the first time I read it.
Published 2 months ago by Country Music Fan
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read
I had Vanity Fair as a set book at school many years ago and decided to have another go at it. My conclusion is that it was totally wasted on me as a 16/17 year old. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mel Scott
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a classic
What a long story! There are some very interesting characters - although the reader doesn't have to like them all - and I liked the historical atmosphere.
Published 4 months ago by Meg King
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