[The following passage comes from the author’s review of a 2018 television adaptation of Vanity Fair. — George P. Landow]

While [Vanity Fair] ostensibly deals with Britain in the Napoleonic era, [it] is actually concerned with the political and economic disruptions of 1847-8, the period during which Thackeray was feverishly writing it and sending it off for publication in Punch for publication in nineteen installments.By the autumn of 1848 the name Napoleon was once again in the air, as Louis Napoleon, the ld rascal emperor’s nephew, snuck into Paris to fill the void left by the abdication of the constitutional “Citizen-King,” Louis-Philipe. Alongside the nightmare prospect of something similar happening in Westminster was the equally troubling suggestion that Britain might be returning, after a long period of enforced austerity, to an age of shameless showing off. With the Great Exhibition, that folk festival of international capitalism, only three years away, [Vanity Fair issues a coded warning against a return to an age of getting and spending.


Hughes, Kathryn. “Vanity Fair ITV.” Times Literary Supplement (28 September 2018): 22.

Last modified 13 March 2019