Monday, December 21, 2009

Wolf Hall bu Hilary Mantel

Winner of the Man Booker prize, Wolf Hall, is a gem of a novel. The reader is positioned behind the eyes of Thomas Cromwell in the 1520’s as he battles for Henry VIII in his resolve to divorce Catherine and marry Anne Boleyn. The character Cromwell as drawn by Mantel is smart, witty, shows moments of kindness and humanity and is intuitive in the reading of the motivations of the nobility and the king. Born in humble and brutal circumstances to a blacksmith, his intelligence is self made and rises above everyone around him. Above all he is faithful servant first to Cardinal Wolsey and then Henry VIII.

What is most interesting is the portrayal of Sir Thomas More as the reversal of the sainted movie hero in A Man for all Seasons. . In the book he is flawed, nasty, narcissistic and a fanatical torturer of heretics. More is his rigidness to his idealistic spirituality contrasts with Cromwell’s worldly adaptation to the political environment of Tudor England.

Court politics abound along with the political conniving of Rome, the clerics, and the royalty of France and Spain. This is a lively emotional novel with Anne Boleyn, Catherine, Mary Tudor, and Jane Seymour starring in vivid roles.

In an NPR interview Hilary Mantel is questioned why she champions villains in her novel. If a historical figure has been given bad press armed with a sense of justice she is drawn into a re-examination of his life. She feels she does not have to redeem the character of Cromwell the facts will redeem him.