Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Holy F#&k!!

Ok, here's the deal. Normally I wouldn't comment on a book when I'm only nine pages into it, but here I have to make an exception. I started reading "Vanity Fair" (William Makepeace Thackeray) tonight, and got through the first chapter plus intro, and I am dumbstruck...with laughter! If this book can keep this up, then I'm gonna be totally blown away. It's hilarious! First of all there's the introduction which strikes me as almost "postmodern"...and I use that word in quotes because frankly, as a scientist, I believe that no one really knows that the word means. In the introduction, the author says, basically, "Check this story out, you huddled mass of humanity...I made it all up! It's nothing but a puppet show...weee, here we go, mother f#%ers! Ha, ha! No, but seriously...".

In Chapter 1, we learn that Miss Amelia Sedley and Miss Becky Tharp are graduating from Miss Pinkerton's academy for young ladies. Actually, Miss Sedley is graduating, and Miss Tharp is leaving for reasons as yet unclear, but graduation does not seem to be one of them. The chapter describes the scene of the two leaving the school. Both are given copies of Dr. Johnson's dictionary, since Miss Pinkerton seems to have met the good doctor at some point, and has held on to this as her claim to fame. Becky ends up throwing her copy out of the coach as they drive away from the school. Hmm, I think I'll like her. But what really cracked me up is that Thackeray writes this in the third person, but comes out from behind the narrator's voice to play the puppet master. First of all, he rags on the characters, calling Miss Pinkerton a "pompous old Minerva of a woman". I'm not quite sure what that means (and yes I looked up Minerva on Wikipedia), but the point is clear. And then, after describing in detail the students' reaction to Amelia's farewell, he writes:

All which details, I have no doubt, JONES, who reads this book at his Club, will pronounce to be excessively foolish, trivial, twaddling, and ultra-sentimental. Yes; I can see Jones at this minute (rather flushed with his joint of mutton and half-pint of wine), taking out his pencil and scoring under the words "foolish, twaddling," &c., and adding to them his own remark "quite true." Well, he is a lofty man of genius, and admires the great and heroic in life and novels; and so had better take warning and go elsewhere.

Woah! This is so awesome!! First of all, I love how JONES is capitalized! WTF? Then, in a couple of sentences, he manages to not only rag on Jones, but to rag on his own book as well. If that isn't postmodern, what is? Hmm, who thought Victorian literature was postmodern? And don't tell me I don't know what postmodernism is, because you don't either! But we already discussed that point.

Anyway, I don't plan on blogging after EVERY chapter of this book, but if it continues to be so awesome I may have little choice.


Rohan Maitzen said...

It does wander on a bit at points, but basically, yes, it is this awesome all the way through.

Kristin said...

You will love it!