Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Why Thackeray?

To round out my dozen masters, I close with a neglected giant. True, his greatest novel continues read, and widely, but he has not been so lucky as his only rival, Dickens. Thackeray, however great his reputation among his contemporaries -- and it once blazed brighter than Dickens' did -- has dimmed, much of what he did, even the novels that made him, are now dusty with neglect, unjustly I think, and as for his lighter efforts...

And yet, he is here by right. He is neither so warm nor so dear as Dickens. Much of his smaller work is too much of it's time, reflecting a kind of fun which isn't what it was. But he is masterful, I insist; at his best, even at something other, when just, as here, working just as Punch, he is nimble, bright and smart.

Why William Makepeace Thackeray? Because you do not know him as you should, and I can still find unexpected delight by just opening almost any book of his I own.

No comments:

Post a Comment