Thursday, 16 March 2017

'Vanity Fair" by William Makepeace Thackeray

I have not posted anything on my blog for three weeks.  But I have been reading....and reading...and reading!
It has taken me three weeks to read "Vanity Fair"- reading bits every day.   The print is extremely small and the book is 900 pages - very clumsy and heavy to hold.  Uncomfortable and hard on the eyes.  This is exactly when an e-reader would be perfect. Unfortunately, when I took my kobo to Chapters, they couldn't get the book to load.  So...
Vanity Fair was written in 1870 and produced in monthly segments in Punch magazine.  It took 20 installments, so it was being read for nearly two years - a little longer than it took me. I'm sure it was a lot more enjoyable reading it then- not only because of the print and size of the book, but also because of references to the culture of the day.   There were 50 pages of notes, trying to explain words, expressions, references to people, places and events.  A very difficult read for the year 2017.But this particular book club that I have been involved with for twenty years, does not shy away from difficult books.  We read a classic every second month.

William Makepeace Thackeray 1811-1863

The title of this book comes from John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress", published in 1678.  "Vanity Fair" was a stop along the pilgrim's route, a fair representing man's sinful attachment to worldly things- this fair sold anything that would seduce people away from God.
Possibly the title now just refers to 'the world' and its attractions.

Charlotte Bronte was reading Thackeray's story in installments and was very impressed with his writing.  When it was half-way through, she decided to dedicate the second edition of Jane Eyre to William Makepeace Thackeray.

The novel is basically about two women who graduated from school together- one from a wealthy family and one living in poverty and shame.
The best part of the story was the picture of women's lives in the 1800's.  

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