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Vanity Fair

Posted by ESC on June 11, 2003

In Reply to: Vanity Fair posted by AA on June 11, 2003

: Does this expression have a special meaning or is it just the name of a magazine? Thanks.

It's not just the name of a magazine.

VANITY FAIR -- It's a literary reference to Vanity Fair in "Pilgrim's Progress."

John Bunyan, British preacher/author, 1628-1688. "The Pilgrim's Progress" (online at

"Vanity Fair -- A fair established by Beelzebub, Apollyon, and Legion, for the sale of all sorts of vanities. It was held in the town of Vanity, and lasted all the year round. Here were sold houses, lands, trades, places, honours, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures, and delights of all sorts." "Faithful, in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, is seized at Vanity Fair, burnt to death, and taken to heaven in a chariot of fire ..." From E. Cobham Brewer 1810-1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898. Accessed June 11, 2003.

Pilgrim's Progress, "The most well-known allegory ever written, this journey of the protaganist, Christian, is simultaneously filled with vivid and full human portraits of its characters. With over 100,000 copies sold in Bunyan's lifetime, this 'most perfect and complex of fairy tales' succeeded in attracting audiences from every Christian sect.", 2003.

Also, "Vanity Fair" by William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), British author.