Recently undertook reading Thackeray's classic and extremely long Vanity Fair. It took me four months, I kid you not. But it was good. And it's amazing to me how a book written in 1848, more than 160 years ago, contains so many of the themes -- the negative themes, I mean -- we still see everyday as we go about our lives interacting with each other: competition, jealousy, desire for social status, elitism, and of course, vanity. There are the good things too -- love, romance, dedication to family, pretty clothes and fancy jewelry, gallivanting across the European continent... But as a commentary on the social castes of society and what's wrong with the system, it does make you wonder if not much has really changed.
At least we can't buy political posts anymore.
Some quotes that stuck with me:
"The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly, kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice." -page 17
"Are not there little chapters in everybody's life, that seem to be nothing, and yet affect all the rest of the history?" -page 60
"Never lose a chance of saying a kind word." -page 209
And the priceless last paragraph:
"Ah Vanitas Vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied? -- Come children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out." -page 809