Thackeray the Writer: From Journalism to Vanity Fair by Edgar F. Harden (auth.)

By Edgar F. Harden (auth.)

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Extra resources for Thackeray the Writer: From Journalism to Vanity Fair

Sample text

Gahagan's consciousness extends from Mrasiab, the ancient Persian king mentioned in the Shahnama (ca. ) by Firdausi, to his alleged descendant, the feeble Mogul Emperor Shah Alam (1728-1806), buffeted by various Mahratta leaders, blinded by an Mghan, and manipulated by the British. Words reflecting Turkish, Persian, French, Muslim, Hindu, and English experience jostle each other in the narrative as their cultures did in fact, and find CHAPTER 1WO 39 themselves joined by the latest addition to the prevailing polyglot: Anglo-Indian.

So too, Thackeray's concern with the debasing effects of Books of Beauty upon young artists-most recently articulated in "The Annuals," which had appeared in The Times seven months previously, and "Our Annual Execution" in the January 1839 Fraser's Magazine-now leads to a graphic characterization of their effect upon young artists and to the identification of a specific victim: "Wo to the painter who falls into the hands of . . the Annual-monger ... ; he ruins the young artist, sucks his brains out, 52 THACKERAY THE WRITER emasculates his genius so as to make it fit company for the purchasers of Annuals.

Thus Gahagan speaks of sombreros as though they could be sheathed, of cabecillas (guerilla leaders) and borachios (suggestive of borrachos, drunkards) as swords, of a camarilla (a coterie) as if it were a chamber, and of muchachas as if they were jokes or taunts, not women. The disorder of Italy is verbally linked to the disorder of Spain and of the 40 THACKERAY THE WRITER narrator himself as he claims, in Spanish mixed with Italian, that retiring soldiers exclaiming Adios, corpo di bacco, nosotros (goodby fellows, by the body of Bacchus) were "clearly proving (by their words) that they would, if they dared, have immolated the victim whom I had .

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