The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






The Bonfire of the Vanities

The Bonfire of the Vanities is a 1987 novel by Tom Wolfe, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York. The story is a satire about ambition and greed in a nightmarish New York City, centered around protagonist Sherman McCoy, a successful and very self-conscious bond trader.

The novel was a bestseller and a phenomenal success, even in comparison with Wolfe's other books.

A 1990 film adaptation, directed by Brian De Palma and starring Tom Hanks as Sherman, was a critical and commercial failure. Filmed in Technicolor.

The title of both the book and the film make reference to a real life event: the Bonfire of the Vanities, which took place in 1497, in Florence, Italy, when the city was under the rule of the Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola. The story told in the book and that of the movie, however, are not a retelling of the historic event, but rather just the titles use the name.