Major TV channels going head to head with rival big budget productions is nothing new but usually, maybe due to intrusive adverts or plain snobbery, I’m a BBC girl through and through. And yet this time my Sunday night viewing is Vanity Fair on ITV rather than Bodyguard for which so far the BBC has been garnering higher viewing numbers. In truth I’m a sucker for a quality adaptation of a classic nineteenth century novel, in this case by William Makepeace Thackeray.
Although the vanity in question is partly the futility of excessive pride and shallowness, a meaning which may well ring true in our very modern age, it is even more a sense of everything being meaningless. Thackeray says that, “all is vanity, nothing is fair” and we can trace these ideas back two centuries before Thackeray to John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress where “Vanity Fair is…full of all sorts of humbugs and falsenesses and pretensions”. Even further back we can read in Ecclesiastes “Vanity of vanities, says the preacher…. all is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil…?” Cheery stuff, but certainly a thought I’ve had from time to time! Thankfully for me the latter writer goes beyond the ‘what’s the point’ sentiment and brings God into the equation, saying “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
All is not lost if you are watching the small screen Bodyguard instead of Vanity Fair:
“And here’s why: God gives out Wisdom free, is plainspoken in Knowledge and Understanding. He’s a rich mine of Common Sense for those who live well, a personal bodyguard to the candid and sincere. He keeps his eye on all who live honestly,and pays special attention to his loyally committed ones.” (Proverbs 2.6-8 MSG).
On balance I think I prefer to live life to the full, rather than a life devoid of meaning.
What about you?