52: Vanity Fair

The Sometime Seminar discusses Vanity Fair (1848), a sprawling comic novel of social climbing and falling by William Makepeace Thackeray.

Topics covered include: Stereotyping, racial, social, and/or comedic — Cynicism and world-weariness, the politics of — Codes of sexual taboo and prurience, the narrative effects of — Repugnant worldviews, their palatability when expressed in comic form — Narrative exclusion, the form and politics of — Historical fiction, the Oedipal politics of

(As usual, spoiler warning: our discussion naturally covers much of the novel’s plot.)

Project Gutenberg has a free electronic text of Vanity Fair, but it is very poorly edited; we recommend buying a real edition.

Supplemental links: John Sutherland on Thackeray’s racism

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