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Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

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“Ah! Vanitas Vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?” —Vanity Fair

A bewitching beauty who bends men to her will using charm, sex, and guile. An awkward man who remains loyal to his friends, even when those friends don’t deserve his affection. A mother who cannot get over the loss of her husband and devotes her life to her child.

Though written in 1847-48, William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair is peopled by types who remain familiar today. The novel’s early nineteenth-century setting immerses us in a strange world of social stratification, moral strictures, and self-conscious sentiment. Yet its characters— from dissolute playboys and self-important heirs to judgmental aunts and finicky gourmands— are instantly recognizable.