I have not posted a blog in quite a while simply because I have not had much to add to what I have already posted or written about in my book.
As you might know, my book’s focus on the Arts include the following four fine arts: 1) the visual arts (paintings and sculpture), 2) classical music, 3) poetry, and 4) dance.
As might also know, my more recent blog postings have focused on a fifth discipline – literature, and what the great writers have said about the path the happiness.
I would like to continue with this focus on literature and discuss the great novel, Vanity Fair, by Thackeray. Warning: This book is very long and contains an abundance of characters who are hard to remember from chapter to chapter.
The title of the book portends man’s rather sinful attachment to worldly things. This attachment creates characters each of which have little concern for others and little concern for the betterment of themselves. It is money and social position that each character strives for since it is believed that only these can put one onto the correct path to happiness.
And, just as important, the subtitle – “A Novel Without a Hero,” provides a glimpse of the other important subject of the novel. Without a hero or heroes, not only does no one reach individual happiness but, perhaps more importantly, society (everyone else) does not prosper. There are no boons or gifts presented to society by the hero on his/her quest for individual happiness. Society simply languishes – the society expressed in the beautiful prose of Thackeray.
The essential gift of Thackeray, himself a hero, available to all of those willing to read his book, is simply: we need to turn away from vanity, embrace the virtues first expressed by the ancient philosophers, and let those virtues lead us to true happiness and the flourishing of society brought about by great boons secured along the way to true happiness. Apparently, early 19th century British society is a portal into the destructive forces of vanity and the absence of heroes.
I can not recommend enough this essential novel, beautifully written.