Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair

Audio CD(Unabridged, 27 CDs, 33 hours)

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A deliciously satirical attack on a money-mad society, Vanity Fair, which first appeared in 1847, is an immensely moral novel, and an immensely witty one. Vanity Fair features two heroines: the faithful, loyal Amelia Sedley, and the beautiful and scheming social climber Becky Sharp. It also engages a huge cast of wonderful supporting characters as the novel spins from Miss Pinkerton's academy for young ladies to affairs of love and war on the Continent to liaisons in the dazzling ballrooms of London. William Makepeace Thackeray's forte is the bon mot, and it is amply exercised in a novel filled with memorably wicked lines. Lengthy and leisurely in pace, the novel follows the adventures of Becky and Amelia as their fortunes rise and fall, creating a tale both picaresque and risque. Thackeray mercilessly skewers his society, especially the upper class, poking fun at their shallow values and pointedly jabbing at their hypocritical "morals." His weapons, however, are not fire and brimstone but an unerring eye for the absurd and a genius for observing the foibles of his age. An enduring classic, this great novel is a brilliant study in duplicity and hypocrisy-and a mirror with which to view our own times.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400106943
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date: 06/01/2008
Edition description: Unabridged, 27 CDs, 33 hours
Sales rank: 1,003,948
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 6.50(h) x 1.70(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

William Makepeace Thackeray was born in Calcutta in 1811. He was sent to England in 1817 and was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. Following a period of gambling, unsuccessful investments and a brief career as a lawyer, he turned to writing and drawing. In 1836 he married Isabella Shawe; following the birth of their second daughter, her mental health deteriorated and she had to be permanently supervised by a private nurse. Thackeray's first novel, Catherine, was published in 1839-40. Following the success of Vanity Fair (1847-8) he was able to devote himself to fiction, and his other notable works include Pendennis (1849), The History of Henry Esmond (1852) and The Newcomes (1855). He also edited the commercially successful Cornhill Magazine, which published writers such as Tennyson, George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Thackeray died suddenly on Christmas Eve, 1863.

Read an Excerpt

Chiswick Mall

Excerpted from "Vanity Fair"
by .
Copyright © 2013 William Makepeace Thackeray.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


List of Plates, ix,
How This Book Came to Be, xi,
In Praise of Thackeray's Pictures, xvii,
The Author: Before the Curtain, 1,
I. Chiswick Mall, 3,
II. In Which Miss Sharp and Miss Sedley Prepare to Open the Campaign, 12,
III. Rebecca is in Presence of the Enemy, 21,
IV. The Green Silk Purse, 28,
V. Dobbin of Ours, 42,
VI. Vauxhall, 54,
VII. Crawley of Queen's Crawley, 73,
VIII. Private and Confidential, 82,
IX. Family Portraits, 92,
X. Miss Sharp Begins to Make Friends, 100,
XI. Arcadian Simplicity, 106,
XII. Quite a Sentimental Chapter, 122,
XIII. Sentimental and Otherwise, 131,
XIV. Miss Crawley at Home, 145,
XV. In Which Rebecca's Husband Appears for a Short Time, 163,
XVI. The Letter on the Pincushion, 173,
XVII. How Captain Dobbin Bought a Piano, 183,
XVIII. Who Played on the Piano Captain Dobbin Bought?, 191,
XIX. Miss Crawley at Nurse, 203,
XX. In Which Captain Dobbin Acts as the Messenger of Hymen, 213,
XXI. A Quarrel about an Heiress, 224,
XXII. A Marriage and Part of a Honeymoon, 234,
XXIII. Captain Dobbin Proceeds on His Canvass, 243,
XXIV. In Which Mr. Osborne Takes Down the Family Bible, 249,
XXV. In Which All the Principal Personages Think Fit to Leave Brighton, 264,
XXVI. Between London and Chatham, 284,
XXVII. In Which Amelia Joins Her Regiment, 293,
XXVIII. In Which Amelia Invades the Low Countries, 301,
XXIX. Brussels, 310,
XXX. "The Girl I Left Behind Me", 324,
XXXI. In Which Jos Sedley Takes Care of His Sister, 335,
XXXII. In Which Jos Takes Flight, and the War Is Brought to a Close, 347,
XXXIII. In Which Miss Crawley's Relations Are Very Anxious about Her, 364,
XXXIV. James Crawley's Pipe is Put Out, 375,
XXXV. Widow and Mother, 393,
XXXVI. How to Live Well on Nothing a-Year, 404,
XXXVII. The Subject Continued, 413,
XXXVIII. A Family in a Very Small Way, 429,
XXXIX. A Cynical Chapter, 444,
XL. In Which Becky Is Recognised by the Family, 454,
XLI. In Which Becky Revisits the Halls of Her Ancestors, 465,
XLII. Which Treats of the Osborne Family, 477,
XLIII. In Which the Reader Has to Double the Cape, 484,
XLIV. A Round-about Chapter between London and Hampshire, 494,
XLV. Between Hampshire and London, 505,
XLVI. Struggles and Trials, 515,
XLVII. Gaunt House, 523,
XLVIII. In Which the Reader is Introduced to the Very Best of Company, 532,
XLIX. In Which We Enjoy Three Courses and a Dessert, 544,
L. Contains a Vulgar Incident, 552,
LI. In Which a Charade is Acted Which May or May Not Puzzle the Reader, 562,
LII. In Which Lord Steyne Shows Himself in a Most Amiable Light, 582,
LIII. A Rescue and a Catastrophe, 593,
LIV. Sunday after the Battle, 603,
LV. In Which the Same Subject is Pursued, 612,
LVI. Georgy is Made a Gentleman, 628,
LVII. Eothen, 641,
LVIII. Our Friend the Major, 650,
LIX. The Old Piano, 662,
LX. Returns to the Genteel World, 674,
LXI. In Which Two Lights Are Put Out, 681,
LXII. Am Rhein, 696,
LXIII. In Which We Meet an Old Acquaintance, 707,
LXIV. A Vagabond Chapter, 720,
LXV. Full of Business and Pleasure, 736,
LXVI. Amantium Irae, 745,
LXVII. Which Contains Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 761,

Reading Group Guide

1. In her Introduction, Joanna Trollope asserts that "one of the huge charms of [Vanity Fair] is that nothing is conventional." Do you think Thackeray's choice of a protagonist speaks to this claim, given the novel's picaresque structure? How does this choice inform the novel? In what other ways does the novel confirm Trollope's claim?

2. What is your opinion of Thackeray's preface, "Before the Curtain"? How does it illuminate for you what he is attempting to do in the novel? In what ways is Thackeray "manager of the performance"? Discuss the role of the narrator in the novel. Is he reliable?

3. Why does Thackeray insist that this is a "novel without a hero"? Do you agree? What are the implications, if any, of such a claim?

4. Compare Becky and Amelia. What, if anything, does Thackeray intend by their contrasting destinies? Does one represent or confirm Thackeray's moral viewpoint better than the other, or do neither? What do you think of the preponderance of unlikable characters? Do you find Thackeray's outlook in any way misanthropic?

5. Anthony Trollope points out that many of Thackeray's contemporaries concluded upon reading Vanity Fair that he "was no novelist, but only a cynic." Do you agree? Do you think this judgment was simply a consequence of the period?

6. Robert Louis Stevenson, in a comment about the novel, remarked on Rawdon's striking of Lord Steyne in chapter 53, saying, "If Rawdon Crawley's blow were not delivered, Vanity Fair would cease to be a work of art." Do you agree with this assessment? Why or why not?

7. Discuss the significance of the Battle of Waterloo. What role does this crucial event play in the novel? Does it in any way serve as a metaphor for other episodes in the text?

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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