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William Makepeace Thackeray 1840s travel books The Paris Sketch Book The Irish Sketch Book The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1944) Serialised in Fraser’s Magazine.

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Presentation on theme: "William Makepeace Thackeray 1840s travel books The Paris Sketch Book The Irish Sketch Book The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1944) Serialised in Fraser’s Magazine."— Presentation transcript:

1 William Makepeace Thackeray 1840s travel books The Paris Sketch Book The Irish Sketch Book The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1944) Serialised in Fraser’s Magazine Sketches written for Punch (later collected and revised to become The Book of Snobs, 1848)

2 WATERSHED → Vanity Fair (1847-48) Pendennis (1848-50) The History of Henry Esmond (1852) (his best according to some contemporaries) The Newcomes (1853-54) The Virginians (1857-9)

3 Some key words Professional writer Illustrator, reviewer, columnist, editor, novelist Tradesman vs Artist Reliable businessman

4 Writing his instalments (see Shillingsburg, pp. 739-44) 1)Thackeray submits three quarters of text 2)Publishers set text in type 3)First proofs sent to Thackeray 4)Thackeray estimates how much more text is needed and writes it 5)Thackeray submits full text 6)Full text set in type and second proofs sent to Thackeray 7)Thackeray corrects proofs and submit final version

5 When reading a text with should never underestimate the PARATEXT. See Montini p. 20 What is the paratext of Vanity Fair?


7 John Bunyan The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) Allegorical work describing an allegorical journey “... And at the town there is a fair kept, called Vanity Fair; it is kept all the year long; it beareth the name of Vanity Fair because the town where it is kept is lighter than vanity; and also because all that is there sold, or that cometh thither, is vanity”

8 The Manager of the Performance see Henry Fielding First Chapter of Tom Jones, 1749 (“The Introduction to the Work, or Bill of Fares to the Feast) see Charles Dickens (“Mr Pickwick’s stage-master”) n.10 Pickwick Papers, January 1837


10 MASTER OF PUPPETS “Novelists have the privilege of knowing everything”, p. 24 “... so did this bowl of rack influence the fates of all the principal characters in this Novel without a hero, which we are now relating”, p. 56

11 FRIEND OF THE CHARACTER “If, a few pages back, the present writer claimed the privilege of peeping into Miss Amelia Sedley’s bedroom, and understanding with the omniscience of the novelist all the gentle pains and passions which were tossing upon that innocent pillow, why should he not declare himself to be Rebecca’s confidante too, master of her secrets, and seal-keeper of that young woman’s conscience?”, p. 158

12 FRIEND OF THE READER “I appeal to the middle class”, p. 91 “Picture to yourself, oh fair young reader”, p.141 The episode of JONES, p. 6

13 “But my kind reader will please to remember that these histories in their gaudy yellow covers, have ‘Vanity Fair’ for a title and that Vanity Fair is a very vain, wicked, foolish place, full of all sorts of humbugs and falseness and pretensions”, p. 83

14 COMMENTATOR OF SOCIETY “To be alone at Vauxhall, I have found from my own experience to be one of the most dismal sports ever entered into by a bachelor”, p. 56

15 “Soda was not invented yet”, p. 56 “But have we any leisure for a description of Brighton? [...] for Brighton, which used to be seven hours’ distant from London at the time of our story; which is now only a hundred minutes off; and which may approach who knows how much nearer, unless Joinville comes and untimely bombards it?”, p. 219 “when the present writer went to survey with eagle glance the field of Waterloo, we asked the conductor of the diligence...” p. 272

16 Thackeray uses the obtrusive narrator in two ways: With a third person narrator “when she called Sedley a very handsome man, she knew that Amelia would tell her mother, who would probably tell Joseph, or who at any rate would be pleased by the compliment paid to her son. All mothers are. If you had told Sycorax that her son Caliban was as handsome as Apollo, she would have been pleased, witch as she was ”, p.22 “[...] this young officer was becoming a more consummate hypocrite every day of his life”, p. 240

17 With a first person narrator ( I or the inclusive WE) If Miss Rebecca Sharp had determined in her heart upon making the conquest of this big beau, I don’t think ladies, we have any right to blame her; for though the task of husband- hunting is generally, and with becoming modesty, intrusted by young persons to their Mammas, recollect that Miss Sharp had no kind parent to arrange these delicate matters for her, and that if she did not get a husband for herself there was no one else in the wide world who would take the trouble off her hands.” p. 19

18 Occasionally the narrator speaks in a note, further blurring the distinction between narrator and implied author and between text and paratext. See p. 63-64 (note 4)

19 The narrator may abandon its omniscience sometimes and becoming limited for a while: “Let us respect Amelia and her mamma whispering and whimpering and laughing and crying in the parlour and the twilight. Old Mr Sedley did.” p. 259 “have we a right to repeat or to overhear her prayers? These brother, are secrets, and out of the domain of Vanity Fair, in which our story lies.” p.262

20 Rebecca and Jos “when two unmarried persons get together, and talk, upon such delicate subjects as the present a great deal of confidence and intimacy is presently established between them. There is no need of giving a special report of the conversation which now took place between Mr. Sedley and the young lady: for the conversation as may be judged from the foregoing specimen was not especially witty or eloquent – it seldom is in private societies or any where except in the very high-flown and ingenious novels”, p. 31 DIFFERENT USE OF LIMITED NARRATOR: Rebecca and Rawdon, p.138

21 In these examples the narrator decides to omit some information. However, he remains omniscient and he constantly reminds us he is. There are cases of LIMITED THIRD PERSON narrator, when the narrator only knows and only tells one side/part of the story. For example: HENRY JAMES What Maisie Knew (1897)

22 FOCALIZATION See Montini, pp.89-92 Who sees? Whose point of view is it? Internal vs External Focaliztion

23 Narrative discourse and distance See Montini 99-104 MIMESISDIEGESIS(Plato) TELLINGSHOWING(Henry James) + informer - info -Informer - info REPORTED SPEECH CAN BLEND THE TWO VOICES (David Lodge)

24 Are you familiar with these expressions? FREE DIRECT SPEECH INTERIOR MONOLOGUE FREE INDIRECT SPEECH ----------------------- STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS (see William James The Principles of Psychology, 1890)


26 TIME See Montini 37-46 Time of the story (CHRONOLOGICAL) vs Time of the Plot (FICTIONAL) “the battle here described in a few lines of course lasted for some months” p. 15

27 How do they interact? How are they related? ORDER Anachrony (Analepsis / Prolepsis) -Reach -Extent DURATION Time Rhythms -descriptive pause -scene -summary -ellipsis FREQUENCY Singulative Repeating Iterative

28 THACKERAY on ANACHRONY “Our story is destined in this chapter to go backwards and forwards in a very irresolute manner seemingly, and having conducted our story to to-morrow presently, we shall immediately again have occasion to step back to yesterday, so that the hole of the tale may get a hearing” p.246 “so in the conduct of a tale, the romancer is obliged to exercise this most partial sort of justice”, p. 246

29 Examples of anticipations “Meanwhile, Napoleon screened behind his curtain of frontier-fortress, was preparing for the outbreak which was to drive all this orderly people into fury and blood; and lay so many of them low” p.273 “Jos’s death was not to be of this sort” p. 273 “A time came when she (Amelia) knew him better, and changed her notions regarding him: but that was distant as yet”, p. 241

30 DIGRESSIONS can be: -Narrative (→ analepsis) -Descriptive -Reflective What do you think of Thackeray’s digressions? What nature do they have?

31 Some tips As you read you may want to mark... N (relevant uses of the narrator) T (relevant uses of time) C (info about the characters) D (digressions, their nature and purpose) T/I (interesting interaction of text and image)

32 Moreover, you may start to collect info about: -Social Classes -Gender issues (for example place and evaluation of women) -Race and Empire -Education and reading habits

33 SPACE “The sale was at the old house in Russell Square, where we passed some evenings together at the beginning of this story.” p.173 “Besides these characters who are coming and going away, we must remember that there were some other old friends of our at Brighton”, p.249

34 “No more firing was heard at Brussels – the pursuit rolled miles away. The darkness came down on the field and city, and Amelia was praying for George, who was lying on his face, dead, with a bullet through his heart”, p. 326

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