Do You Write Your Name in Books? On Rereading Thackeray’s “Vanity Fair”

The other day, while I was reading William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, I had an irresistible urge to write my name on the flyleaf.  I hadn’t done that in years.  At 12, I scribbled my name in Jane Eyre.  I also wrote it in  my Latin dictionary.

Then I broke the habit. Some years ago, I was irritated when a librarian wrote my name in a  novel I’d lent her.  It seemed impudent, because it wasn’t her book.

Perhaps I wrote my name in Vanity Fair because I was enjoying it less than I hoped. When I first read it at 17, I  found Becky Sharp hilarious and Dobbins charming, but I was disappointed in the book.   I was a Victorian novel nut, but I  preferred Dickens’s  pyrotechnics and Trollope’s plain style to Thackeray’s pointed wit and stylistic bibelots.  In  the introduction to the Penguin, John Carey compares Vanity Fair to War and Peace.  I do not see the similarities.

I enjoyed Thackeray’s Barry Lyndon and The Newcomes.  So why  does the clever, nimble prose of Vanity Fair not delight me?

I wrote my name in the book, so now I have to like it.

Do you write your name in books?

5 thoughts on “Do You Write Your Name in Books? On Rereading Thackeray’s “Vanity Fair””

  1. I write my name in books when I lend – or “lend” – them to people. I hope they will feel the same twinge of guilt that I feel when I see someone else’s name in a book I never got round to returning.

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  2. I don’t write my name in books, but once after reading a book on theatre (for a class) and making many notes and quoting from it extensively, I felt the inexplicable urge to trace a butterfly on the back :). I really shouldn’t have, because it was a library book.

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