Read The History of Pendennis: His Fortunes And Misfortunes, His Friends And His Greatest Enemy by William Makepeace Thackeray Donald Hawes J.I.M. Stewart Online

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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 suWritten 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....

Title : The History of Pendennis: His Fortunes And Misfortunes, His Friends And His Greatest Enemy
Author :
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ISBN : 9780140430769
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 810 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The History of Pendennis: His Fortunes And Misfortunes, His Friends And His Greatest Enemy Reviews

  • K.
    2019-01-31 20:34

    If I write anything in the review, it will contain spoilers. So, if you care, don't read it ;)A fascinating little tidbit from the back cover of my edition, which created a lot to ponder for me as I read the book: "Pendennis is one of the earliest and greatest of the Victorian Bildungsromanen--introspective novels chronicling the author's growth to maturity under a thin veil of fiction. On coming across Pendennis in later life, Thackeray was heard to mutter: 'It is very like. Yes, it is very like.'"This is a really long, but quite delightful story of a spoiled young man growing up into a pretty decent man. Fortunately for Pen, the protagonist, his life turned out better than Thackeray's own had done, at least in terms of familial relationships. Perhaps this was an alternate ending for him, a little "what might have been." It seemed to me that for the most part Thackeray was honest about Pen, and always was very willing to point out his character flaws and point us unmistakably to just who was Pen's own greatest enemy. At times I thought he waxed a little too poetical about Pen's virtues, but it really was quite an even picture of a real human trying to make his way in the world. If I found Pen's mother and Laura a little too good at times, it was probably due to my wishing someone could possibly think I'm as angelic ;) But Thackeray must have been painting pictures of women he had loved and respected completely. The book had a lot of themes good for thought. Loyalty (Warrington); Self-sacrifice (Warrington, Mrs. Pendennis, Laura, even Bows); What a good mentor can do for a self-absorbed person (Warrington); When in Rome (Major Pendennis, Blanche); What vice leads to (Sir Francis Clavering, Costigan); Friendship (Warrington, Foker, even Strong); Patience & forbearance (Warrington, Laura); Honesty to & honor for self & others (Warrington, Laura, Pen); Selfishness, worldliness, skepticism, cynicism (Pen, Blanche, the Major). The story of growing up & learning what would really make him (Pen) happy (instead of what he had thought would make him happy) was well done and the moral was clear without being overbearing or too in-your-face (mostly). It was a fun, easy, although long, read. Glad I did & glad I had read "The Newcomes" first (even though that was sort of backwards) so that I knew Pen would turn out okay. Usually, the longer the book, the better (for me). But this one really could probably have been much shorter, really, probably half. Sometimes the "Pen getting snared by the Artful Blanche" just felt way too drawn out. You think he's safe, and then he's not, etc a few times over. It just seemed that it could have been wrapped up in a much shorter & more concise way. All in all, this book was much more to the point than "The Newcomes" and much more enjoyable, it really was a delightful story. I love Thackeray's humor & his obvious willingness to poke fun at himself & teach a moral by helping us not to do what he did. Despite his sometime stupidity, Pen was a loveable character. I only wish Thackeray had written a book about Warrington, because I liked him best of all. --Some fun: "What a pang it is (to be lovesick)! I never knew a man die of love, certainly, but I have known a twelve-stone man go down to nine stone five under a disappointed passion, so that pretty nearly a quarter of him may be said to have perished: and that is no small portion." (165)"Half a fellows pangs at losing a woman result from vanity more than affection. To be left by a woman is the deuce and all, to be sure; but look how easily we leave 'em." (166)"What a deal of grief, care & other harmful excitement, does a healthy dullness and cheerful insensibility avoid! Nor do I mean to say that Virtue is not Virtue because it is never tempted to go astray; only that dullness is a much finer gift than we give it credit for being, and that some people are very lucky whom Nature has endowed with a good store of that great anodyne." (182)"A man will lay down his head, or peril his life for his honour, but let us be shy how we ask him to give up his ease or his heart's desire. Very few of us can bear that trial." (211)"We are not about to go through Pen's young academical career very minutely. Alas, the life of such boys does not bear telling altogether. I wish it did. I ask you, does yours?" (211)"Many a young man fails by that species of vanity called shyness, who might, for the asking, have his will." (298)"I doubt whether the wisest of us know what our own motives are, and whether some of the actions we are the very proudest will not surprise us when we trace them, as we shall one day, to their source." (392)"Don't be too eager, or too confident, or too worldly, my boy." (572)"Pen was sarcastic and dandified with he had been in the company of great folks; he could not help imitating some of their airs and tones, and having a most lively imagination, mistook himself for a person of importance very easily." (580)"His worldly tactics and diplomacy, his satire and knowledge of the world, could not bear the test of her purity, he felt somehow." (855)"All this kindness Laura had acquired, not by arts, not by any flattery, but by the simple force of good-nature, and by the blessed gift of pleasing and being pleased." (857)"...what a mockery life was, and how men refuse happiness when they may have it; or, having it, kick it down; or barter it, with their eyes open, for a little worthless money or beggarly honour..." (863)

  • Gary Inbinder
    2019-02-10 23:20

    Pendennis, an early Victorian semi-autobiographical Bildungsroman that might be compared to its more famous contemporary, Dickens’ David Copperfield, is a prime example of the novels Henry James deprecated as “loose, baggy monsters.” Long to the point of exhaustion, the novel’s filled with numerous characters who appear, disappear, and then reappear under the most incredible circumstances; plots, subplots and counterplots; ludicrous coincidences and chance encounters; dealing, double and triple dealing; long-winded explanations of characters’ motives; purple prose, and cloying sentimentality; and a jumble of dangling loose ends to be gathered together in a denouement that affronts sanity with the sublime indifference of the Marx Brothers. At times I speculated, while rubbing my weary eyes, whether Thackeray had been paid by the word. And yet, scattered here and there, were scenes of ingeniously crafted brilliance detailed in stunning prose: a ball, a night at Vauxhall Gardens, the vivid descriptions of life in the English countryside, of University Life in the 1830s, of the Inns of Court, the London Underworld and Debtor’s Prison, of the end of Coaching Days and the coming of the railroad, and throughout this great crazy quilt the portraits of numerous unforgettable minor characters who come out of the wings to play, at one time or another, a major role before exiting the stage never to be seen again. Is Pendennis then a loose, baggy monster? Perhaps, but in my opinion it’s a most fascinating and endearing beast for those brave enough to enter its lair and spend some time in its company.

  • Geoff
    2019-02-12 03:19

    From Gary Inbinder's review:"Pendennis, an early Victorian semi-autobiographical Bildungsroman that might be compared to its more famous contemporary, Dickens’ David Copperfield, is a prime example of the novels Henry James deprecated as “loose, baggy monsters.” Long to the point of exhaustion, the novel’s filled with numerous characters who appear, disappear, and then reappear under the most incredible circumstances; plots, subplots and counterplots; ludicrous coincidences and chance encounters; dealing, double and triple dealing; long-winded explanations of characters’ motives; purple prose, and cloying sentimentality; and a jumble of dangling loose ends to be gathered together in a denouement that affronts sanity with the sublime indifference of the Marx Brothers."SOLD.

  • John Purcell
    2019-01-31 21:33

    I am so sad. This book was my friend and now it is finished. If you love Vanity Fair and want to meet Thackeray, here is your chance.

  • Jeremy
    2019-01-24 21:38

    I have to admit that I couldn't get through this book. Well, I couldn't get through the second volume. Perhaps the change of seasons did me in; it's hard for me to curl up with a dusty victorian tome when the air outside is so fresh and inviting. Plus, I don't think this novel is nearly as good as Vanity Fair. The characters just are not as interesting or accessible, there are too many of them, the plot flags and seems to repeat similar story lines. The only highlight, other than Thackery's prose (man, it's good) is the aging Major Pendennis, who spends several hours a day putting on make up, powdering his wig and having his boots shined just so...all in a vain attempt to recall his glorious past of hobnobbing with the in-crowd. He doesn't realize, sadly, that he's becoming a caricature. All very poignant, but not enough to get me through. On to the summer reading list...

  • Kat
    2019-02-13 22:27

    As for the story - after muddling through this book to the end, I wasn't rewarded. I just didn't care about Pen. Laura had no personality it is true, but you actually felt for George and wanted him to be happy. I didn't feel for Pen, how his mom and Laura thought him to be so wonderful was silly. In fact I was hoping he would end up marrying Blanche and then having to deal with that and somehow George and Laura could end up together. As for the writing itself - there were some great quotes along the way, and some great comments/observations that Thackeray made of people in general, so I guess that made it worth those lost hours.

  • Rachel
    2019-02-03 01:26

    Well. It's a bit like Vanity Fair, except not nearly so good, and with a really annoying hero. I mean, you don't want a perfect hero, but on the other hand you don't want a spineless snobbish idiot with no redeeming features at all, like Arthur Pendennis. Didn't warm to him. Didn't think he should be rewarded with the best girl at the end. Some of the minor characters are quite amusing, but not enough to make up for the rottenness at the core. Oh and the introduction was annoying too. The editor seemed to think Thackeray was better than George Eliot (nonsense), and almost as good as Joyce. Which is unfair. He's much better than Joyce.

  • Charlotte K
    2019-01-30 00:26

    Pendennis is a guilty pleasure for readers who love 19th century British literature about wealthy aristocrats who make bad choices, but also know that they probably should be reading French literature, where everyone is poor and miserable and the injustices of the world are called more clearly into light. I enjoyed every one of the 800 pages of Pendennis. I'll probably go back to reading miserable French novels now, or maybe contemporary fiction about real, pressing issues, but I'll always look back on this vacation fondly.

  • Shelby Rollenhagen
    2019-01-20 03:46

    Although The History of Pendennis is well written and a good read, it is long and a bit of a challenge to get through at times. I would recommend reading it, but there is nothing fast paced throughout the novel.It is a good example of a literary Bildungsroman.

  • Karen Eterovich
    2019-02-14 19:24

    Excellent, Dickens for adults! Very funny, very satisfying, another world and yet not.

  • Perry Whitford
    2019-01-21 21:36

    It took the author two years of labour to produce this semi-autobiographical tower block of a Bildungsroman. It may take you as long to read it but there are worse ways to spend the time, i.e. reading Trollope.Thackeray's young Pendennis is the kind of generous, guileless, son of an upwardly mobile tradesman with pretentions of gentility and a doting mother, who falls in love with the first pretty woman he sees in a vast number of Victorian novels.True enough he does exactly that, with an indifferent Irish actress named Emily Costigan, daughter of Captain Costigan, a seedy old raconteur for whom 'fact and fiction reeled together in his muzzy, whiskified brain.'This injudicious amour is just the first mistake in a series of youthful gaffs from a refreshingly less than sympathetic protagonist. He's not a rogue, far from it, but he has plenty of faults:'this lad was very weak as well as very impetuous, very vain as well as very frank, and if of a generous disposition, not a little selfish in the midst of his profuseness, and also rather fickle, as all eager pursuers of self-gratification are.'Pendennis becomes a dandy and scapegrace at college, failing his exams ('He had slept, and the tortoise had won the race') and running up huge debts for his widowed, adoring mother to settle. What he really needed at this stage was a good clip round the ear.After retaking his exams with success, young Arthur moves to London and studies for the Bar while making a living as a journalist. His further romantic entanglements include Betsy 'Blanche' Amory, a wealthy and capricious flirt, and Fanny Bolton, a pretty girl from the lower-classes (cue the obligatory patronising attention to dropped h's etc.)Not as ripe as Dickens, nor as tedious as Trollope, Thackeray struck me as splitting the distance between his two contemporaries. He addressed the reader frequently, on a couple of occasions even upbraiding the illustrator for the lack of fidelity in his character studies!The plotting was mercifully free from lazy coincidences (apart from a minor one near the end.) Certainly he couldn't resist condescending his lower-class characters, as all his Victorians did, but he served up the same treatment to the toffs. In fact I speculated that Arthur's greatest enemy referred to in the title may actually have been his uncle, Major Pendennis, a slavish ass-kisser of the aristocracy.On a sidenote, never before have I come across an author so enamored by the verb 'sate.'At just under a thousand pages you may want to think twice about reading it. On balance I enjoyed it enough to commit to giving Vanity Fair a shot one day. Here's an example of Thackeray's humour, topic the perils of imitation: 'has not the grave closed but lately upon poor Tom Bickerstaff, who having no more imagination than Mr. Joseph Hume, looked in the glass and fancied himself like Shakspeare? shaved his forehead so as farther to resemble the immortal bard, wrote tragedies incessantly, and died perfectly crazy—actually perished of his forehead?'

  • Robert burke
    2019-02-05 01:32

    Don't know how many people will like this novel or even Thackeray. Some say he is way too 'wordy', but what gems of wisdom we find among those words. If you like fast reading Victorian novels, you won't like it. If you like a novel that you would read every word and that flows seamlessly, this is for you. We read of Arthur first love at eighteen and Thackeray makes us think back to our first love. We grow with Arthur though his life and think about ourselves. Thackeray is the one author that can relax the reader and make them forget about the modern world.

  • Mary Ronan Drew
    2019-02-06 01:40

    DNF

  • Ricardo Moedano
    2019-01-30 23:41

    It is with utmost regret that I relinquish this book having barely reached about 37% of it. How eager I was to embark on another voyage through the glittery channels drafted by Thackeray´s pen! Alas, I suppose the springs of genius had run dry after the composition of Vanity Fair (the magnus opus immediately preceding the volume subject of these lines), for the fountains of artistry no longer soared above our banal views to refresh us with a splutter of his caricatures. The History of Pendennis, compared to Thackeray´s major work, felt like going to some parade in the open country on a rainy day - where, therefore, in lieu of actual, nimble people performing varied numbers, we are ushered into a tent to meet a massive assortment of wooden dummies with a plate at their feet to introduce each of them and guide us along the dingy, winding passages. Now, I also gave up Barry Lyndon two years ago because, in my opinion, its narrative voice sounded rash, diluting the grace and nuances that endeared me to Men's Wives, The Book of Snobs, and The Fatal Boots (besides Vanity Fair, of course).Furthermore, many scenes in Pendennis are akin, albeit far inferior, to the brilliant sketches comprised in The Book of Snobs. In fine, images of every character and incident in the aforementioned tales by Thackeray are, still seven years later, quite vivid in my memory, whereas anything concerning Pendennis affected me (oh it vexes me to admit it!) as so blatant yet vapid, that once I turned off my Kindle two minutes since, I couldn´t recall the name of almost anyone in this, nevertheless, over-populated story.

  • Nipuna
    2019-01-21 21:29

    This was a very very long book with lots of interjections and sermons by the narrator who I guess is the author but is also a fictional character. It ended with a lot of excitement that I didn't expect from such a plodding story about a mostly unremarkable person. I sometimes liked Arthur, sometimes didn't - and that's how the narrator wanted it to be. In the end I liked him more because of who liked him. Does that make me shallow? Poor Warrington. I almost caught some dislike on the level of Flaubert for his characters in Madame Bovary for this segment of society who wanted to marry advantageously for titles or riches. But the characters were more selfless and less scheming than the Bovarys. Or maybe there is historical context that I missed without being intimately familiar with the time in which the novel was written. I couldn't help but suspect that much of the prose from the narrator was the author's opinions on the times in which he lived. The older folks like Major Pendennis and the Claverings and even Costigan were more concerned with marrying riches and titles than the young ones like Warrington and Arthur and Laura. Or maybe I, the reader, liked them more because of that.

  • Nicola Brown
    2019-02-02 20:35

    I thoroughly enjoyed this. Pendennis is more of an everyman (ie, flawed) than a hero; but he is an endearing character and his adventures and the characters that populate them make an absorbing read.

  • Dan
    2019-01-23 02:41

    This is the genuine article of all the bad things people say about Victorian fiction, with a sainted mother and lots of authorial intrusion and not very much plot at all, but after the first quarter (which is, I accept, the size of many much better books) I was entertained, and Thackeray's humor and moral imagination shows through after Pendennis comes of age and becomes a lucky prig. Not really a three star book as I look back at it, but if I weren't compelled by it... well I like to think I'm not dumb enough to read 800 pages of what I am experiencing in my heart as a two star book.

  • Catherine Siemann
    2019-02-16 01:43

    This one starts out slow, with the protagonist's youthful infatuation with an actress, but picks up speed and more engaging social satire after he moves to London. A few characters are tedious caricatures, and the wit isn't quite as biting as in Vanity Fair, but on the other hand there is a character or two with some actual sense and principle, as well as a parade of Thackeray's usual fools, rogues, and etc.

  • Lucy
    2019-01-27 20:45

    I don't think Thackeray liked people very much. The 'good' characters are so unrealistic, Arthur's mother especially - he's much better at the ones he can despise like Costigan. Oh, but wouldn't Anthony Trollope have made a wonderful thing of Pen and Warrington?This book goes on far too long and he makes it quite clear to the reader that he's rushing the end, which is frankly ludicrous. Ah well, Trollope had barely got going at this point in time, so comparisons are odorous.....

  • Danielle
    2019-01-26 21:38

    I'd never read Thackeray before, since I'd only heard of "Vanity Fair" and that never appealed to me. "Pendennis," though long and skim-worthy in many places, paints a fascinating picture of England in the 1830's. Other than the too-perfect Laura, the characters are interesting and amusing, and the plot, (once it finally gets going,) though typically Victorian, is engaging enough.

  • Amy Wolf
    2019-02-04 22:37

    A marvelous satire by Thackeray of his own life. The characters -- especially the theatre people & goldiggers -- are memorable, as is Pendennis' own uncle, whose utterances of "Pooh!" is enough to break up any reader. Long, but worth it!

  • Katie
    2019-01-30 00:25

    Good story, good characters, quality writing. There were a lot of twists and turns, and I really liked it.