Hilary Mantel is killing it.

121015_r22677_p233The judges of the Booker prize might have the HT on Mantel, but I read Wolf Hall and Bringing Up the Bodies in about two weeks, and am into this article she just wrote for the London Review of Books. It starts with Kate Middleton and Diana and folds many mostly female royal bodies together as “carrier[s] of myth”, discussing how the public consumes them; what the public demands of them. It spins from the lack of soul allowed by our adulation of royal bodies to the fact that “a royal lady is a royal vagina”, to genetics and back again, mapping the way morals are mapped onto the bodies in question. What do we mean when we talk about royalty? What does Kate Middleton mean to us,  why do we care, and what do we owe to this newer royal or to any others? Mantel brings in the recent discovery of Richard III, whose twisted spine was used as a narrative device in Shakespeare but is now a archaeological reality, to illustrate the truth in some of our public myth making, and circles back to the intrigue that surrounded Henry VIII. She references a recent paper hypothesizing that Henry had a rare genetic disorder – now he is the one  bound by a common “biological tragedy, inscribed on the body.” If you pair it with this New Yorker profile of Mantel, written in the style of her Cromwell books, there is good reading for all.


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