The key. The escape by Mark Aldanov

By Mark Aldanov

A translation from Russian of the 2 volumes of Aldanov's trilogy.

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The examples are numerous, and always handled with a gentle touch: Jos Sedley driving himself alone through Hyde Park, and dining alone in fashionable restaurants, not quite fooling himself into believing that the joys of London society are his; his sister Amelia, spending days forlornly gazing out of her Russell Square bedroom, waiting for the arrival of George Osborne, her unenthusiastic suitor; Sir Pitt Crawley, slowly dying after what seems to be a stroke, ignored by the family and servants who had once been at his command; Amelia’s unrequited lover Dobbin, pacing the pavement at Chatham, watching the lights go out in the bedroom she now shares with her husband George.

Thackeray is prone to offer his characters pity for one thing only: their unremitting loneliness. ” (p. 419) It is no unimportant fact that Thackeray’s own illustrations, which so aptly accompany his text, often depict his characters by themselves, in states of reverie, absorptive thought, or mere sadness, rather than in the comic-melodramatic group tableaux that Dickens and his illustrators preferred. Vanity Fair, like so many other Victorian novels, is crowded with characters; but the novel’s crowd is a crowd of isolates.

414). Are we to believe the narrator when he agrees with Becky, or are we to take that agreement as an only sarcastic mimicry of what might be a sordid, and self-deceiving, rationalization on Becky’s part? Small as this moment is, it is repeated throughout the novel in numerous ways. Reading vanity Fair is often the task of learning to minutely discriminate between the narrator’s shifting tones, of learning to become a connoisseur of Thackeray’s mood changes, of the small modulations in this most mercurial of narrative voices.

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