Friday, February 15, 2013

Beginning Vanity Fair



The Vanity Fair Read-along hosted by Trish and Melissa is officially underway. I started early and listened to the first couple of chapters yesterday morning.

Background:
Vanity Fair, subtitled A Novel without a Hero, by William Makepeace Thackeray was first published in 1847–48 and satirized society in early 19th-century Britain. The title comes from John Bunyan's allegorical story The Pilgrim's Progress (1678) which was still widely read at that time. "Vanity Fair" refers to a stop along the pilgrim's progress: a never-ending fair in a town called Vanity, meant to represent man's sinful attachment to worldly things.

Book description (from amazon):
No one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than the alluring and ruthless Becky Sharp, who defies her impoverished background to clamber up the class ladder. Her sentimental companion Amelia, however, longs only for caddish soldier George. As the two heroines make their way through the tawdry glamour of Regency society, battles—military and domestic—are fought, fortunes made and lost. The one steadfast and honourable figure in this corrupt world is Dobbin with his devotion to Amelia, bringing pathos and depth to Thackeray's gloriously satirical epic of love and social adventure.

Plan of attack:
Total immersion is my favorite approach to long classics these days, and involves a combination of reading and listening. I listen on my iPhone - in the car, on the treadmill, walking the dog, cleaning the house, etc. - and read at home in the evening.

This time I have chosen Tantor Audio's 2008 production narrated by Wanda McCaddon (28 hours and 45minutes)


and my old Penguin Classic paperback edition, 809 pages plus notes.



Initial impression:
After just two chapters, I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy this novel. The characters of Becky Sharp and Amelia Sedley have been introduced and present quite a contrast.

This quote from chapter two makes me think Thackery has a few lessons to teach:
The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.  Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice.
Follow the conversation on twitter: #YoureSoVain

Next post: Midpoint check-in around March 1

It's not too late... why not join us?

14 comments:

  1. I've been meaning to read Vanity Fair for ages, so though my track record with readalongs is diabolical I might just join you. As long as The Classics Club Spin doesn't give me anything long or difficult...

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    1. Fleurfisher - Oh, I hope you do! I love the idea of the Classics Club Spin, but don't think I can do it along with VF. Still, may make a list anyway and give myself an extra month.

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  2. It's very very tempting!!!! I love your approach to this one.

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    1. Staci - The read/listen combo makes it much easier for me!

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  3. Vanity Fair has long been on my want to read classics, and the quote you included is so very powerful! I'm considering joining you all as I were this comment...thanks for the post.

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    1. Bellezza - I've wanted to read Vanity Fair for ages - even started once with a Yahoo group, but fell behind and dropped out. This time WILL be better... hope you decide to join us!

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  4. I just signed up! For some reason reading a big chunky classic like this has been intimidating to me lately, so I'm excited that I found a readalong for it. Glad to hear that you're enjoying it so far! I'm hoping to start it tonight or tomorrow morning.

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    1. Sarah - It's nice to meet you! So glad you've decided to join us. Books like this are much easier with the support of a readalong.

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  5. I've tried, many times, to read Vanity Fair and have not enjoyed it. I think it just may be one of those classics that I never get to. I wish you luck with your readalong!

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    1. Anbolyn - Thanks. I started Vanity Fair once before, but never got far. So far it seems totally unfamiliar... which may be a good thing ;-)

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  6. I picked up this audio a while back and I think I'll listen along. I'm not going to officially join but I'll follow along with you instead.

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    1. Darlene - That's great! So far, I have been mostly listening. There are quite a few different versions out there. Who is your narrator?

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  7. Enjoy the readalong. I'm behind in my Reader so am thinking you could even be done with the book by now. I'll find out once I make it through all of my blog posts that I need to read!

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    1. Kathleen - I actually finished on Thursday and posted the wrap-up today ;-)

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

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