Re: Wolf Hall
Posted by Steven on 15/6/2012, 9:51:28, in reply to "Re: Wolf Hall"
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: I am ready to read the sequel,
Do you have it? I'm ready to begin if anyone else is, otherwise I may put if off for a while.
: I am really confused about the depiction of Thomas
: More. According to Mantel, he has no redeeming
: qualities, he is a torturer and a cheepskate who
: cruelly makes jokes about his rich daughter-in-law's
: desire to have a pearl necklace. Who are we going to
: believe. I am really torn now.
I suspect much of the legend around Thomas More comes from his writings, which espoused humane values he did not practice (not that anyone else did), and his opposition to Henry VIII, who has been demonized for having beheaded two wives. Intolerance was the rule rather than the exception at that time, and all of the principal religious leaders, including Luther and Calvin, encouraged or ordered the killing of those who disagreed with them.
What makes Mantel's More so unlikable, I think, is not so much what he does but his snide personality in contrast to Cromwell's sincerity. This is probably just a matter of interpretation.
: Thanks to this book, I learned so much about the
: reformation and the details of Christianity. Growing
: up in an islamic country, I had never learned as much
: as you guys knew by high school.
Actually I've learned a lot too. Growing up under any religion means learning only one side of the picture. As an evangelical protestant I was taught that Catholics weren't even Christians, and that the Pope was the Antichrist. With those kinds of prejudices, it's impossible to see both sides of an issue.
I just finished reading Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes. It is considered a work of political philosophy, but more than half of it deals with religious issues. Even though it was written a century after Henry VIII, much of it reads as a defense of the English Reformation, so I learned a lot from it to back up what we read in Wolf Hall.
: What did you all though about the language/style with
: which the characters spoke to one another? I don't
: think that kind of humour and familiarity was possible...
The language Mantel used is probably a compromise between authenticity and readability, leaning heavily towards the latter.
I'll disagree, though, and say that the language of the court was probably every bit as earthy and intimate as she makes it, if not more so. I think we are deceived by Victorian prudery into thinking that sexual candor is a 20th century invention. Consider that Marguerite de Navarre, the sister of Henry's rival king Francis I of France, was at this time writing The Heptameron, a series of stories loaded with with sexual escapades and innuendo. And Marguerite was a woman noted for her piety. She and Anne Boleyn were no doubt well acquainted from Anne's time in the French court.
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