The History of Pendennis: His Fortunes and Misfortunes, His Friends and His Greatest Enemy

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Oxford University Press, 1994 - 1061 Seiten
Set mainly in London's bohemian and literary underworld, Pendennis (1848-50) is the funny and uninhibited story of Arthur Pendennis. Son of a selfless widow, he moves from one disastrous romantic entanglement to another. After running up bills at university and studying to become a lawyer, he drifts into a literary career, meeting a host of second-rate journalists and circling the corrupt fringes of the upper classes. Pendennis is one of the earliest and greatest of the Victorian Bildungsromanen - introspective novels chronicling the author's growth to maturity under a thin veil of fiction. On coming across Pendennis in later life, Thackeray was heard to mutter: 'It is very like. Yes, it is very like.' Born into the upper classes, Thackeray had lost his patrimony on the gambling tables and had married imprudently. He had slaved for ten years in London's literary bohemia, and it was here that he met the men who inspired many of his characters. In his introduction John Sutherland considers the parallels between Thackeray's life and that of Pendennis, and examines the changes taking place in Victorian England throughout the years of the novel, particularly during the revolutionary 1840s.

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Über den Autor (1994)

William Makepeace Thackeray was born in Calcutta, India, where his father was in service to the East India Company. After the death of his father in 1816, he was sent to England to attend school. Upon reaching college age, Thackeray attended Trinity College, Cambridge, but he left before completing his degree. Instead, he devoted his time to traveling and journalism. Generally considered the most effective satirist and humorist of the mid-nineteenth century, Thackeray moved from humorous journalism to successful fiction with a facility that was partially the result of a genial fictional persona and a graceful, relaxed style. At his best, he held up a mirror to Victorian manners and morals, gently satirizing, with a tone of sophisticated acceptance, the inevitable failure of the individual and of society. He took up the popular fictional situation of the young person of talent who must make his way in the world and dramatized it with satiric directness in The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1844), with the highest fictional skill and appreciation of complexities inherent within the satiric vision in his masterpiece, Vanity Fair (1847), and with a great subtlety of point of view and background in his one historical novel, Henry Esmond (1852). Vanity Fair, a complex interweaving in a vast historical panorama of a large number of characters, derives its title from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and attempts to invert for satirical purposes, the traditional Christian image of the City of God. Vanity Fair, the corrupt City of Man, remains Thackeray's most appreciated and widely read novel. It contrasts the lives of two boarding-school friends, Becky Sharp and Amelia Smedley. Constantly attuned to the demands of incidental journalism and his sense of professionalism in his relationship with his public, Thackeray wrote entertaining sketches and children's stories and published his humorous lectures on eighteenth-century life and literature. His own fiction shows the influence of his dedication to such eighteenth-century models as Henry Fielding, particularly in his satire, which accepts human nature rather than condemns it and takes quite seriously the applicability of the true English gentleman as a model for moral behavior. Thackeray requested that no authorized biography of him should ever be written, but members of his family did write about him, and these accounts were subsequently published.

John Sutherland was born on October 9, 1938. After graduating from the University of Leicester in 1964, he began his academic career as an assistant lecturer in Edinburgh. He specializes in Victorian fiction, 20th century literature, and the history of publishing. He is Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature at University College, London and is currently teaching at the California Institute of Technology. He writes for The Guardian and is a well-known literary reviewer. He is the author of more than 20 books including Stephen Spender: The Authorized Biography, How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide, The Boy Who Loved Books, Curiosities of Literature, 50 Literature Ideas You Really Need to Know, Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 294 Lives, and Magic Moments: Life-Changing Encounters with Books, Film, Music. He is also the co-author, with Stephen Fender, of Love, Sex, Death and Words: Tales from a Year in Literature.

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