William Makepeace Thackeray  

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Richard Salmon

This study examines a wide range of Thackeray’s writings, including novels, shorter fiction, journalism and criticism, locating their generic diversity and persistent critical concerns within the specific material contexts of early to mid-nineteenth century literary culture.

Description: Acknowledged, by his contemporaries, as one of the great novelists of the nineteenth century, W.M. Thackeray’s critical reputation suffered a marked decline through much of the last century. This book, the first introductory critical study of Thackeray’s writings in twenty years, seeks to redress this state of relative neglect by examining a much wider range of writing - from novels to shorter fiction, journalism and criticism - than is customarily familiar to readers of Vanity Fair. The generic and formal diversity of Thackeray’s writing is shown to emerge out of the specific material contexts of early to mid-nineteenth century literary culture, primarily the journalistic culture of the periodicals to which he contributed. The book argues, moreover, that the materiality of culture, a recent preoccupation of literary criticism and theory, is one of the most pervasive characteristics of Thackeray’s fiction, both as an object of its satire and an aspect of its realism. Thackeray’s consciousness of time - his journalistic relationship to the present and antiquarian fascination with memory and the eighteenthcentury past - is also a recurrent feature of his writing, which the book considers. The book is divided into chapters along conceptual, rather than strictly chronological, grounds, thus identifying many of the persistent patterns and concerns of Thackeray’s work.


Author: Salmon, Richard

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