By Clyde De L. Ryals

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According to Mill, who in his review found it "replete with every kind of interest, epic, tragic, elegiac, even comic and farcical" (p. 23), he achieved just that. VANITY FAIR Transcendental Buffoonery Unlike Carlyle's, Thackeray's interest in the process of becoming lies less in its manifestations in cataclysmic, revolutionary events than in its movements in society and in social classes. In his works time creates and time destroys, but it is never explosive. Even where momentous episodes of history occur in his fictions, they are always in the background, serving as backdrops in front of which more local incidents of change take place.

If in a meeting house, with the blank white walls, and a simple doctrinal exposition,—all the senses should turn (from where they lie neglected) to all that sunshine in the Sistine with its music and painting, which would lift them at once to Heav­ en,—why should you not go forth? And then, after an elaborate metaphor, Browning continues: See the levity! No—this sort of levity only exists because of the strong conviction, I do believe! There seems no longer need of earnestness in assertion, or proof .

To prove his point the author calls upon us to decide certain matters. For example, did Becky kill Jos Osborne? Did she com­ mit adultery with Lord Steyne? What did old Osborne want to say before he died? " (p. 24). " (p. 517). " (p. 538). Questions such as these are scattered through­ out the text. We are not told the answers, and consequently we shall never be sure what they are; at best we can have only a kind of moral intuition about them. We are not provided with answers because, it turns out, the author, for all his vaunted omniscience, does not have them.

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