Friday, January 27, 2012

Been too long, I blame B. Sharp

So I've been reading Vanity Fair for what seems like a decade.  And it's getting to the point where I want to say, "Thackarey, really man, really?"  I mean, it's a good book, even great at parts, but by page 400 of 800 you get it.  The plot is rather boring once you get past the battle and you GET IT!  Becky is a quick witted biotch, Amelia is poor and perfect, Dobbin is the gentle, quiet hero and Rawdon is a dope.  The characters, even Becky, seem one deminsional and while I think his satire of late Georgian/early Victorian english society is hilarious at points, after awhile it become redudant for my tastes.

Poor guy...

I can't help but compare him to Dickens, and every time he does something kind of awesome I think about how Dickens would have done it better.  I didn't have these Dickens > Thackarey thoughts through the first 200 pages of the book.  I actually gave ole Thack props for being Dickens with no filter!  But Dickens with that filter, Dickens is able to crassly comment on Londonites with subtle and intellegent notes.  And 800 pages of Dickens has a flippin' plot---AN INTERESTING ONE AT THAT.

Breathe, it's just a book.

So, on December 15th, I said screw Becky Sharp and cracked open one of my Nonesuch Dickens that my husband got me last year for christmas.  Of course, I opened up the Christmas Books and decided to read the novellas The Chimes and The Cricket.  Both of them were deliciously descriptive.  In the first 2 pages of The Chimes, Dickens describes the wind twirling up the steeple to finally blow the chimes into movement and song---I read 5 times, it was that good.  However, through all this descriptive awesomeness, at the end of the day, the story was a knockoff of A Christmas Carol, where a weird (yet, good) old man sees the lives of those he loves if he had died.  But the descriptions of the goblins, the chimes, of Toby Veck himself were so rich it didn't matter if this was a slight duplication of a better story. 

The Cricket was similar, the story was predictable and small, but poignant and breathtakingly descriptive--how simple to take a cricket on the hearth and create a story about relationships, marriage and love and how the home and the hearth are the centerpeices of our lives.  I can imagine Dickens smoking his pipe on a cold winter night with a dog or cat curled up infront of the fire at his feet and him hear a cricket's chirp and thus the story began.

Neither of these stories were Christmasy--besides the fact that they take place in the week or two after December 25th.  The Chimes were a New Years story. 

But to get back to Vanity Fair and Thackarey.  I guess part of me is blah with this book purely because I've read tons of 800 paged books before (does that sound snobby?)--it's not the length, it's the tireless satire, the characture characters, and the lack of anything really exciting plot-wise.
I've read Anna Karenina--and even then, when you're on page 600 and you feel like you will never finish, still, whatever is happening on the page, whatever description or minor character you are reading about, it still entraps you into a world that is so rich and beautiful. 

I don't know.   Maybe I'll have a different opinion when I finish, I'll get back to you then on final thoughts of Vanity Fair and try not to bash it and find some merit within it.

---k, I finished. 

Anticlimatic and predictable, but I enjoy the fact that Thackarey holds on to the "theatre" theme throughout his narration to the end---so for the last 5 months of my life I read or "saw" a super long satirical play.  Yay me.

Maybe I should have read this when I had tons of time to dedicate it, rather than in short spurts.  However, I believe that's how Thackarey's contemporary readers read it, in periodical spurts.  They must have had much more patience.
On to Hemmingway and "The Sun Also Rises".  I promise it won't be 5 months until the next update this time...

1 comment:

  1. "Dickens > Thackarey" is the best use to which math has ever been put. Hahah. I love it. Okay, I'm maybe being a little hyperbolic, but not very much. Top 5 best uses to which math has ever been put.

    Way to slog through. I'm with you about extended satires. And allegories, for that matter. Once a person gets the idea, it can get tedious.

    As always, love reading your responses. Will look forward to hearing what you think of Ernest H.