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Vanity Fair (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

William Makepeace Thackeray
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
Price: 1.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 May 1992 Wordsworth Classics

This Wordsworth Edition includes an exclusive Introduction and Notes by Owen Knowles, University of Hull.

Thackeray's upper-class Regency world is a noisy and jostling commercial fairground, predominantly driven by acquisitive greed and soulless materialism, in which the narrator himself plays a brilliantly versatile role as a serio-comic observer.

Although subtitled A Novel without a Hero, Vanity Fair follows the fortunes of two contrasting but inter-linked lives: through the retiring Amelia Sedley and the brilliant Becky Sharp, Thackeray examines the position of women in an intensely exploitative male world.

When Vanity Fair was published in 1848, Charlotte Brontë commented: ‘The more I read Thackeray'sworks the more certain I am that he stands alone – alone in his sagacity, alone in his truth, alone in his feeling… Thackeray is a Titan.’

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Vanity Fair (Wordsworth Classics) + Middlemarch (Wordsworth Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; Paperback edition (1 May 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853260193
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853260193
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.8 x 3.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Useful notes, compact serviceable text, affordable price."--Dorice Elliot, Johns Hopkins --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharpe and Fair 15 May 2007
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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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mammoth But Brilliant Read 14 Oct 2010
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars is it really that good? 26 Aug 2011
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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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I read it with a smile on my face 21 July 2009
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Published 9 days ago by Poppy
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
In depth study of the trials and tribulations of a couple of well educated girls...from leaving school, to marriage and beyond. Read more
Published 10 days ago by S. Devenny
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
as expected
Published 17 days ago by Janice W.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
really lovely book!
Published 1 month ago by Daniela A.
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 1 month ago by Pat Cross
5.0 out of 5 stars Book download
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Published 1 month 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 1 month 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 2 months 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 3 months 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 3 months ago by White Knight
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