Friday, December 7, 2007

Vanity Fair

Finished Vanity Fair last night. I LOVED this book. These people were very life like:
Amelia: Devoted to George, who never really cared; unable to see Dobbin's devotion, only taking advantage of it.
Dobbin: Devoted to Amelia, but she doesn't really care. He's much too good for her, and yet he comes back.

And above all, Becky Sharp. The world, I believe, is almost wholly populated by Becky Sharps.

Every time I read a novel from this period of history, I'm struck by how much better it is than novels of any other time period. How many of the books on the Modern Library's Top 100 would still be on the list if it were to include 19th Century works? Thackeray, Hugo, Dostoevsky, Dickens, Eliot, Hawthorne, Melville, the Brontes, Dumas, etc.. Nothing against the particular merits of the works of the 20th Century, but could Naipaul, Henry Miller, Carson McCullers, etc., really stand up to the giants of the 19th century? With each work from the 1800s that I read, compared to the 1900s, and particularly more modern literature, the more convinced I am that they certainly could not.

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