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Wolf Hall

by Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall (2009) is a novel by English author Hilary Mantel, published by Fourth Estate. It also won a Man Booker Prize. The book is about the speedy rise to power of Thomas Cromwell in the Tudor court of King Henry VIII in the 1520s. Born to a humble family, Cromwell became the right-hand of Cardinal Wolsey, and then the chief minister to Henry VIII.

 

 

 

 

 

In that role, he oversaw the break with Rome, the dissolution of the monasteries, and Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn. He was widely hated in his lifetime, and historical and literary accounts in the subsequent centuries have not been kind to Cromwell; in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons, for example, he is portrayed as the calculating, unprincipled opposite of Thomas More's honour and rectitude.

Mantel's novel offers a corrective to that impression, an intimate and more rounded portrait of Cromwell and the political machinations of Henry's court. Mantel spent five years researching and writing the book, and the trickiest part, she said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, was trying to match her version to the historical record. To avoid contradicting history, she created a card catalogue, organized alphabetically by character, with each card containing notes showing where a particular historical figure was on relevant dates. "You really need to know, where is the Duke of Suffolk at the moment? You can't have him in London if he's supposed to be somewhere else," she explained.

The title comes from the name of the Seymours' family seat Wolfhall or Wulfhall in Wiltshire; the title's allusion to the old Latin saying "Man is wolf to man" serves as a constant reminder of the dangerously opportunistic nature of the world through which Cromwell navigates. Much of the earlier part of the novel takes place at Cromwell's home in Austen Friars in the City of London, now the location of Drapers' Hall.

Hilary Mantel explains "Wolf Hall"

>>>>> Video <<<<<

 

Critical Reaction

“... Wolf Hall succeeds on its own terms and then some, both as a non-frothy historical novel and as a display of Mantel's extraordinary talent. Lyrically yet cleanly and tightly written, solidly imagined yet filled with spooky resonances, and very funny at times, it's not like much else in contemporary British fiction. A sequel is apparently in the works, and it's not the least of Mantel's achievements that the reader finishes this 650-page book wanting more. The Guardian”

“Over two decades, she has gained a reputation as an elegant anatomiser of malevolence and cruelty. From the French Revolution of A Place of Greater Safety (1992) to the Middle England of Beyond Black (2005), hers are scrupulously moral - and scrupulously unmoralistic - books that refuse to shy away from the underside of life, finding even in disaster a kind of bleak and unconsoling humour. It is that supple movement between laughter and horror that makes this rich pageant of Tudor life her most humane and bewitching novel. The Observer”

"... as soon as I opened the book I was gripped. I read it almost non-stop. When I did have to put it down, I was full of regret the story was over, a regret I still feel. This is a wonderful and intelligently imagined retelling of a familiar tale from an unfamiliar angle — one that makes the drama unfolding nearly five centuries ago look new again, and shocking again, too. The Times”

The Man Booker Prize

James Naughtie, the chairman of the Booker prize judges, said the decision to give Wolf Hall the award was "... based on the sheer bigness of the book. The boldness of its narrative, its scene setting ... The extraordinary way that Hilary Mantel has created what one of the judges has said was a contemporary novel, a modern novel, which happens to be set in the 16th century."

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Comments

Well written with a excellent insight into the times of Cromwell. very good.

 


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