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Thackeray, William Makepeace. (1811 - 1863).

W o r k

- a satical novelist, essayist, and an intensely amusing comic journalist

The Book of Snobs: “By One of Themselves” (1847):

- satirises the upper- and middle-class society

x but: acknowledges the familiar addiction to the vices it observes, even in the narrator himself

The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1844), revised as The Memories of Barry Lyndon (1852):

- a satirical novel

- an Irish adventurer is obliged to join the army x but: deserts and establishes himself as a professional gambler in the courts of Europe

- his upward mobility culminates in an unhappy marriage to a wealthy aristocratic widow

Vanity Fair: “Novel without a Hero” (1847 - 1848):

- the masterpiece of his narrative disconcertion

- the narrator is the ‘Manager of the Performance’, a showman manipulating the puppets, and a preacher drawing lessons from their behaviour

- sets himself up as a ‘Satirical-Moralist’, does not only amuse x but: teaches

- denies heroism to its characters, questions all pretensions to vice and virtue, and undercuts both military and civil greatness

- concludes with a singularly precarious success of the most sympathetic character, the honest William Dobin, who wins his beloved Amelia

The History of Pendennis (1848 - 1850):

- concerned the development of the eponymous protagonist, a young gentleman torn between domestic virtue x the pleasures of the world

- concludes with his success both in love and the literary life

The History of Henry Esmond (1852):

- set in the opening of the 18th century in the reign of Queen Anne

- intermixes the private x the public: pays tribute to the fiction of the 18th century, and provides an insight into the historical process

- concludes with a passive withdrawal of its romantic protagonist

The Newcomes (1853 - 1855):

- his most obviously ‘Victorian’ novel about an extended genteel family

- the upright Colonel Newcome is the only to remain the ‘most respectable’ and to maintain the virtues of true ‘gentlemanliness’

The Virginians (1857 - 1859):

- a sequel to The History of Henry Esmond

- concerned with the genteel Esmond family in their Virginian retreat and their political dilemmas in the period of the American Revolution


(Sketch: Wikimedia Commons).

  • Author

    William Makepeace Thackeray. (1811 - 1863). British.
  • Work

    Novelist. Essayist. Journalist. Author of Vanity Fair (1848).
  • Genres

    Victorian fiction and non-fiction. Parody. Satire. Comedy.


Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.

Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.

Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.

Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.

Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.

Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.


"Ah! Vanitas vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?"

From the conclusion of Vanity Fair (1847 - 1848).


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