Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray
In the novels of Thackeray, essay is so much mixed up with narrative, and comment with characterization, that they can hardly be thoroughly appreciated in poor editions. The temptation to skip is almost irresistible, when wisdom can be purchased only at the expense of eyesight. We are therefore glad to welcome the commencement of a new edition of his writings, over whose pages the reader can linger at his pleasure, and quietly enjoy the subtleties of humor and observation which in previous perusals he overlooked. The present volumes, published by the Harpers, are among the most tasteful and comely products of the Cambridge University Press. Printed in large type of tinted paper, elegantly bound in green cloth and with a fac-simile of the author's autograph on the cover, every copy has the appearance of being a presentation copy. No English edition of Vanity Fair is equal to this American one in respect either to convenience of form or beauty of mechanical execution. The illustrations are numerous, well engraved, and embody the writer's own conceptions of his scenes and characters, and are often deliciously humorous. Vanity Fair, though it does not include the whole extent of Thackeray's genius, is the most vigorous exhibition of its leading characteristics. In freshness of feeling, elasticity of movement, and unity of aim, it is favorably distinguished from its successors, which too often give the impression of being composed of successive accumulations of incidents and persons, that drift into the story on no principle of artistic selection and combination. The style, while it has the raciness of individual peculiarity and the careless case of familiar gossip, is as clear, pure, and flexible as if its sentences had been subjected to repeated revision, and every pebble which obstructed its lucid and limpid flow had been laboriously removed. The characterization is almost perfect of its kind. Becky Sharp, the Marquis of...
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