Every once in a while, in a burst of good intentions, I decide that I'm going to read all the classics of western literature that were somehow passed over in my student days. Ten years ago, during one of these periodic fits, I purchased a copy of Vanity Fair. As the bookmark (a yellowed newspaper coupon cut from the Michigan Money Saver) attested, when I came across the neglected volume a couple of weeks ago while foraging in the darkest corners of my bookshelves for something diverting, I never made it past the second chapter.
At a loss for other reading material, I decided to make another stab at it. This time, I got over the hump and it appears I'll finish the book in the next day or two. I understand why I gave up on it the first time, though. Thackeray's writing seems like the bastard offspring of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Unfortunately, the child seems to have gotten the worst of the genetic mix. Like Dickens, Thackery frequently comments on the social ills of the day, but in a much more cynical and sarcastic way than Dickens. Like Austen's novels, his story is concerned primarily with the everyday politics of class and marriage, but without any of the sympathy for the characters that Austen exhibits.
I haven't done any research on literary criticism of Thackeray, apologies if the above ramblings are trite. Anyway, it has been an irritating read, but having come this far, I have to finish it. Then I can go on to the cheap thrills of the latest Maeve Binchy novel.Posted by ldfs at March 31, 2004 2:41 PM | TrackBack