The history of Pendennis, his fortunes and misfortunes, his friends and his greatest enemy by J. Stewart

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Written immediately after Vanity Fair, Pendennis has a similar atmosphere of brooding disillusion, tempered by the most jovial of wits. But here Thackeray plunders his own past to create the character of Pendennis and the world in which he lives: from miserable schoolboy to striving journalist, from carefree Oxbridge to the high (and low) life of London. The result is a superbly panoramic blend of people, action and background. The true ebb and flow of life is caught and the credibility of Pen, his worldly uncle, the Major, and many of the other characters, extends far beyond the pages of the novel. Held together by Thackeray's flowing, confident prose, with its conversational ease of tone, Pendennis is as rich a portrait of England in the 1830s and 40s as it is a thorough and thoroughly entertaining self-portrait.

About J. Stewart

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William Makepeace Thackeray was born in Calcutta, India, where his father was in service to the East India Company. After the death of his father in 1816, he was sent to England to attend school. Upon reaching college age, Thackeray attended Trinity College, Cambridge, but he left before completing his degree. Instead, he devoted his time to traveling and journalism. Generally considered the most effective satirist and humorist of the mid-nineteenth century, Thackeray moved from humorous journalism to successful fiction with a facility that was partially the result of a genial fictional persona and a graceful, relaxed style. At his best, he held up a mirror to Victorian manners and morals, gently satirizing, with a tone of sophisticated acceptance, the inevitable failure of the individual and of society. He took up the popular fictional situation of the young person of talent who must make his way in the world and dramatized it with satiric directness in The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1844), with the highest fictional skill and appreciation of complexities inherent within the satiric vision in his masterpiece, Vanity Fair (1847), and with a great subtlety of point of view and background in his one historical novel, Henry Esmond (1852). Vanity Fair, a complex interweaving in a vast historical panorama of a large number of characters, derives its title from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and attempts to invert for satirical purposes, the traditional Christian image of the City of God. Vanity Fair, the corrupt City of Man, remains Thackeray's most appreciated and widely read novel. It contrasts the lives of two boarding-school friends, Becky Sharp and Amelia Smedley. Constantly attuned to the demands of incidental journalism and his sense of professionalism in his relationship with his public, Thackeray wrote entertaining sketches and children's stories and published his humorous lectures on eighteenth-century life and literature. His own fiction shows the influence of his dedication to such eighteenth-century models as Henry Fielding, particularly in his satire, which accepts human nature rather than condemns it and takes quite seriously the applicability of the true English gentleman as a model for moral behavior. Thackeray requested that no authorized biography of him should ever be written, but members of his family did write about him, and these accounts were subsequently published.
Published June 26, 1986 by Penguin. 805 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, Nature & Wildlife, Travel, Science & Math, Humor & Entertainment, Action & Adventure, Religion & Spirituality. Fiction

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