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New York Reading Group: Vanity Fair

February 14, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


The Center for Fiction in New York will host a reading group of William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, led by scholar and Trollope Society director N. John “Jack” Hall. Thackeray was Trollope’s idol and mentor, and this exploration of one of the leading novels of the Victorian era is sure to be an invigorating excursion for Trollopians.

The group will meet four times, on the second Tuesday of the month from February through May 2017, from 6 – 7:30 pm on February 14, March 14, April 11, and May 9. The cost to attend is $140 (non-members register here), or $120 for members of the Center for Fiction or The Trollope Society (members register here).

About Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair is on just about everybody’s list of the world’s greatest novels. Yet posterity has not been as kind to Thackeray as to his great rival, Dickens—except for this one book. Published in 1848 and set in 1812 to 1830, this “Novel without a Hero” was ground-breaking in its massive realism, its panoramic reach, its depiction of the passage of time, its relaxed colloquial style, always witty, satiric, elegant, graceful.

But more important, as Thackeray’s biographer Gordon Ray puts it, is “the illumination it provides of mankind’s moral experience.” Or, as David Cecil writes, “Thackeray is the first novelist to do what Tolstoy and Proust were to do more elaborately, use the novel as a conscious, considered criticism of life.” Accordingly, our readings will investigate the question of whether Vanity Fair can change your life, or at least your view of it.

Recommended Edition

Oxford University Press World’s Classics, ed. John Sutherland.. For the first meeting participants should have read the first 16 chapters..

About N. John Hall

“Jack” is Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus, BCC and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He has been twice the director of NEH Summer Seminars for College Teachers and twice a Guggenheim Fellow. His many publications and editions include The Trollope Critics (ed); Trollope and His Illustrators; the two-volume Letters of Anthony Trollope, and Trollope: A Biography. This last earned Hall a front-page review in the New York Times Book Review and occasioned the (London) Times calling him “arguably the world’s leading authority on Anthony Trollope.”

Registration is via the Center for Fiction:

Center for Fiction & Trollope Society Members: $120 * (Join The Trollope Society: $75)

Non-Members: $140


February 14, 2017
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


Center for Fiction
17 E. 47th Street
New York, NY United States


Center for Fiction