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Thackeray   By: (1815-1882)

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First Page:

Transcriber's note:

The letter "o" with a macron is rendered [=o] in this text. It only appears in the word "Public[=o]la".

A detailed transcriber's note will be found at the end of the text.

English Men of Letters

Edited by John Morley

THACKERAY

by

ANTHONY TROLLOPE

London: MacMillan and Co. 1879. The Right of Translation and Reproduction is Reserved. Charles Dickens and Evans, Crystal Palace Press.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I. PAGE BIOGRAPHICAL 1

CHAPTER II.

FRASER'S MAGAZINE AND PUNCH 62

CHAPTER III.

VANITY FAIR 90

CHAPTER IV.

PENDENNIS AND THE NEWCOMES 108

CHAPTER V.

ESMOND AND THE VIRGINIANS 122

CHAPTER VI.

THACKERAY'S BURLESQUES 139

CHAPTER VII.

THACKERAY'S LECTURES 154

CHAPTER VIII.

THACKERAY'S BALLADS 168

CHAPTER IX.

THACKERAY'S STYLE AND MANNER OF WORK 184

THACKERAY

CHAPTER I.

BIOGRAPHICAL.

In the foregoing volumes of this series of English Men of Letters , and in other works of a similar nature which have appeared lately as to the Ancient Classics and Foreign Classics , biography has naturally been, if not the leading, at any rate a considerable element. The desire is common to all readers to know not only what a great writer has written, but also of what nature has been the man who has produced such great work. As to all the authors taken in hand before, there has been extant some written record of the man's life. Biographical details have been more or less known to the world, so that, whether of a Cicero, or of a Goethe, or of our own Johnson, there has been a story to tell. Of Thackeray no life has been written; and though they who knew him, and possibly many who did not, are conversant with anecdotes of the man, who was one so well known in society as to have created many anecdotes, yet there has been no memoir of his life sufficient to supply the wants of even so small a work as this purports to be. For this the reason may simply be told. Thackeray, not long before his death, had had his taste offended by some fulsome biography. Paragraphs, of which the eulogy seemed to have been the produce rather of personal love than of inquiry or judgment, disgusted him, and he begged of his girls that when he should have gone there should nothing of the sort be done with his name.

We can imagine how his mind had worked, how he had declared to himself that, as by those loving hands into which his letters, his notes, his little details, his literary remains, as such documents used to be called, might naturally fall, truth of his foibles and of his shortcomings could not be told, so should not his praises be written, or that flattering portrait be limned which biographers are wont to produce. Acting upon these instructions, his daughters, while there were two living, and since that the one surviving, have carried out the order which has appeared to them to be sacred. Such being the case, it certainly is not my purpose now to write what may be called a life of Thackeray. In this preliminary chapter I will give such incidents and anecdotes of his life as will tell the reader perhaps all about him that a reader is entitled to ask. I will tell how he became an author, and will say how first he worked and struggled, and then how he worked and prospered, and became a household word in English literature; how, in this way, he passed through that course of mingled failure and success which, though the literary aspirant may suffer, is probably better both for the writer and for the writings than unclouded early glory. The suffering no doubt is acute, and a touch of melancholy, perhaps of indignation, may be given to words which have been written while the heart has been too full of its own wrongs; but this is better than the continued note of triumph which is still heard in the final voices of the spoilt child of literature, even when they are losing their music... Continue reading book >>




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