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Vanity Fair is a novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, first published in 1848. The book tells the story of two women, the cunning and ambitious Becky Sharp and the kind and virtuous Amelia Sedley, as they navigate their way through the social hierarchy of early 19th-century England during and after the Napoleonic Wars. The novel begins with Becky and Amelia attending school together, where Becky learns to use her wit and charm to manipulate those around her. As they grow up, Becky becomes a governess and then marries the wealthy but foolish Rawdon Crawley, while Amelia marries the dashing but irresponsible George Osborne. Following the lives of these two women, as well as a cast of other colorful characters, as they experience love, loss, and betrayal, Thackeray satirizes the social and moral values of his time, showing how ambition, greed, and vanity can corrupt even the most seemingly virtuous individuals. The novel also explores themes of class, gender, and power, making it a complex and thought-provoking work of literature that continues to resonate with readers today. The title, Vanity Fair, comes from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, where a stop along the pilgrim's route: a never-ending fair held in a town called Vanity, represents man's sinful attachment to worldly things.
№ 7 in the 20 Classics You Must Read Before You Die list.
№ 10 in The BBC's 100 Greatest British Novels.
№ 14 in The Guardian's 100 Best Novels Written In English.
№ 19 in The Guardian's 100 Greatest Novels Of All Time.
№ 22 in Goodreads 100 Best Nineteenth-Century British and Irish Novels.
This book has 306,166 words, 480 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1848.
Production notes: This ebook of Vanity Fair was published by Global Grey in 2020, and updated on the 10th March 2023. The artwork used for the cover is 'After the Ball' by Conrad Kiesel.