Friday, 23 March 2012

Vanity Fair

Date of Reading: 12/08/2006 & 17/07/2009
Author: William Makepeace Thackeray
Publisher: UBSPD
Place: New Delhi
Reprint: 2007

Subtitle: A Novel without a Hero
Major Characters: Becky Sharp, Amelia Sedley, George Osborne, William Dobbin, Rawdon Crawley, Lord Steyne.

          The title comes from John Bunyan's allegorical story The Pilgrims Progress ,where it refers to a stop along the pilgrim's way: a never-ending fair held in a town called Vanity, which is meant to represent man's sinful attachment to worldy things.
          Here in this novel it indicates the world of social climbing and search for wealth and fame.Through the two characters, Rebecca and Amelia, author unravels the British society during the reign of King George.
          Amelia is rich, shy and does not have any advantage in vanity fair. Becky has desired the high society always, but lacks the means and she has no one to arrange a marriage for her. A rich husband is her only solution which she finds in Rawdon Crawley who gets disinherited after their marriage. She gives birth to a son and Crawley leaves her after being treated as a puppet.
          Meanwhile Amelia also suffers some setbacks. The ruin of the family fortune troubles her relation with George but he marries with the support of Dobbin who secretly loves Amelia. In reality George was only a rogue and was unfaithful. But after his death in Waterloo, Amelia leads the life of a widow with their son and Dobbin provides for both of them. In the end Becky opens her eyes and she marries Dobbin. Becky gets enough money to live respectably when she inherits the wealth of Joseph Sedley.

Rating: Excellent

          I hv read this book for the first time in an abridged version published by Longmans. But if u need a real feeling of Thackeray, go for the unabridged version though it is 795 pages long.
          The plot appears complex becoz of the multitude of characters, but if u r interested in classics, there will be no problem of losing the thread. The idea behind the novel is very modern -- the struggle to establish oneself in society [the usual theme of modern Sophie Kinsella novels]. The author doesn't make any judgement with regards to this struggle. Money will not bring any peace or happiness, if it is won through deceitful ways, but its a necessary evil after all.
          Novel has been the subject of numerous television and film adaptations. Latest one is the 2004 British-American costume drama film of the same name, directed by Mira Nair, starring Reese Witherspoon. The film was nominated for "Golden Lion" Award in 2004 Venice Film Festival.

--- the character of Joseph Sedley adds a post-colonial element in the novel as he works in India for English East India Company. 

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