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By Clyde De L. Ryals

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Additional resources for A World of Possibilities: Romantic Irony in Victorian Literature (Studies in Victorian Life and Literature)

Example text

So much for the surface, beyond which we are told nothing. " asks the narrator in the last paragraph. "Which of us has his desire? 13 It is not only for his personal enter­ tainment that Thackeray dangles his puppets before us and thwarts our expectations of what a novel should be. l4 He reminds us that he and we alike are not only visitors to but also participants in the fair, the Vanitas Vanitatum (p. 666), subject to all its many distractions, foibles, and sins. Here, says the narrator, "moi qui vous park," you and I, dear reader, are "brothers," not only to each other but to all the other fairgoers as well.

350). This confusion about the proper identity of the "I" is re­ flected in the narrative process, which is chiefly characterized by frequent interruptions of the story that serve to break the fictional illusion. First, the narrator never lets us forget that he is indeed the Manager of the Performance and manipulator of the characters and the situations in which they are engaged. In certain scenes, he says, "I intend to throw a veil" (p. 66), "bring our characters forward" (p. 81), "adroitly shut the door" (p.

131) and to "suppose" time to have passed (p. 347), distances to have been travelled (p. 372), characters to feel in a particular way (p. 437). "My friend in motley," the narrator says, "your comedy and mine" (p. 585) are not at all unlike, and this commedia of Vanity Fair is a joint endeavor based on similar interests and situations. Thus "you and I are never tired of hearing and recounting the history of that famous action [Waterloo]" (p. 314). "You and I, my dear reader," have "our friends'' in common (p.

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