William M. Thackeray – Vanity Fair (1848)

Becky Sharpe (marries Rawdon Crawley) and Amelia Sedley (marries Geroge Osborne and later Major Dobbin) are central characters. Jos Sedley is a gourmand who lives in colonies, a parody of King George, I think. Younger George Osborne and Rawdon Crawly replace Becky and Emmy, but with equalized social positions; Lady Jane (married to Sir Pitt) replaces Becky as the mother.


Form is sloppy, vulgar, corporeal, rambling, unformed  Contrast with Henry Esmond

Authorial (narratorial) interventions: 88 (on insignificance of chapter, content), 109 (on privacy, concealment), 116 (on title), 117 (on characters), 154 (on form, digression), 198 (on cause and effect: determinate effects of narrative; cf. Cynthia Chase and D.A. Miller), 220 (advice for women, e.g.), 293 (non-chronological temporal ordering), 310 (on marriage in novels), 453 (fortune), 493 (funerals: occasion for clustering vanities; cf. Middlemarch funeral), 586 (the “best”) , 650 (dissection of affect), 663 (more advice), 721 (narrator comes out, enters stream of narrative), 792 (the “last page),

Implicating Reader: 572 (allowed to choose at feast), 583 (can’t enter upper echelons of society), 660 (I can see Vanity Fair yawning: ambiguity of “vanity fair” personae), 750 (ambiguous “we”),

Hero/Heroine: 353 (“If this is a novel without a hero, at least let us lay claim to a heroine”), 659 (female martyrdom), 798 (“She has her enemies…Her life is answer to them”)

Proliferating list: 104 (dinner), 589 (satirical dinner party list; cf. Joyce)

Novel dominated by exchange principle. 438-9 (secrets of living on nothing: effects on working class—the base-line currency of exchange principle and exploitation), 467 (deceiving others about means), 715 (Jewish slight, one of many),

Veiling, concealment, knowledge: 100 (active veil thrown over event), 389 (the novelist knows all), 440 (on unknowability of women’s fashion), 583 (can’t enter upper echelons of society: “tremble before those august portals”), 592 (the possibilities generated by veiling: connect to potentiality of debt; cf. Sedgwick and Francois on Open Secrets), 621 (Rawdon exposes Becky’s private papers), 738-40 (truth/falsity of Becky’s story; selective representation), 759 (active veling, “skipping”)

History: 214 (grand events connect to insignificance characters; cf. Gwendolen in Deronda ‘thread’), 420 (war tourism),

Transience: 584 (who doesn’t like roast beast even though it’s transient), 685 (Jos’s eating), 725 (how characters age),

Education: Advantage of Georgy’s education, 720 (Amelia’s vulgar education)


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