Vanity Fair

A Novel Without a Hero

By William Makepeace Thackeray; Leonard J. Kent (Editor); Nina Berberova (Editor)
(Modern Library, Paperback, 9780375757266, 768pp.)

Publication Date: May 8, 2001

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Description
A marvelous, incisive social satire that gleefully exposes the greed and corruption raging in England during the turmoil of the Napoleonic wars through its tracing of the changing fortunes of two unforgettable women. It is a comic masterpiece that still resonates today.
"Re-reading "Vanity Fair, " one realises what a brilliant innovation this was in the English novel," remarked V. S. Pritchett. "Thackeray is like the modern novelists who derive from James and Proust, in his power of dissecting (and of desiccating ) character."
Generally considered to be his masterpiece, "Vanity Fair" is Thackeray's resplendent social satire that exposes the greed and corruption raging in England during the turmoil of the Napoleonic wars. Subtitled "A Novel Without a Hero," it traces the changing fortunes of two unforgettable women: the scheming opportunist Becky Sharp one of literature's most resourceful, engaging, and amoral heroines and her foil, the faithful, naive Amelia Sedley. Thackeray's subversive, comic attack on the hypocrisy and "dismal roguery" of an avaricious world resonates 150 years later with implications for our own times.
"Thackeray is an urbane nineteenth-century guide and commentator in a portrait gallery that is for all time," observed Louis Auchincloss. "He is the restless inhabitant of a prudish age, nostalgic, discursive, anecdotal, sentimental, worldly-wise, now warning us, now making fun of us, now reproving us .... Thackeray's harshest criticism of humanity is simply the point where ours commences. His perception of self-interest in every act is the ABC of modem psychology."



About the Author
William Makepeace Thackeray was a nineteenth century English novelist who was most famous for his classic novel, Vanity Fair, a satirical portrait of English society. With an early career as a satirist and parodist, Thackeray shared a fondness for roguish characters that is evident in his early works such as Vanity Fair, The Luck of Barry Lyndon, and Catherine, and was ranked second only to Charles Dickens during the height of his career. In his later work, Thackeray transitioned from the satirical tone for which he was known to a more traditional Victorian narrative, the most notable of which is The History of Henry Esmond. Thackeray died in 1863.



Nina Nikolaevena Berberova (1901-1993) was born in St. Petersburg. She left Russia after the revolution in 1922, eventually settling in Paris in 1925 with her lover Vladislav Khodasevich. She moved to the U.S. in 1950 and taught at Yale and Princeton. In France she was honored as a Chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Letters.
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