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Temperance
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PostSubject: Royal Bodies   Tue 19 Feb 2013, 14:57

Poor Hilary Mantel - this is what the fuss is all about. Don't think Cameron bothered to read it before passing judgement.

Superb, intelligent piece of writing - as you'd expect. How apt are the quotations from Stevie Smith for Diana, Princess of Wales!

There, on a rock majestical,
A girl with smile equivocal,
Painted, young and damned and fair,
Sits and combs her yellow hair.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n04/hilary-mantel/royal-bodies
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Tue 19 Feb 2013, 16:03

The fuss is about someone who cannot respond to the remarks in any way.I am appalled that Mantel, lauded for her undoubted ability and fine writing should seize upon a young woman in a vulnerable state to lambaste. we are as we are and Mantel is no great view but I do not feel tempted to draw the world's attention to what I feel are her outward and physical attributes - if I had the talent to tear mantel's literary work to shreds then she would be fair game - and she would bring me down o size in no time. Kate cannot do that. Just what sort of a princess does Mantel have in mind for this less than desirable post, I wonder? Gap toothed, chubby - middle aged -wads of degrees and writing ability, preferably barren?
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Tue 19 Feb 2013, 16:57

But is it actually an attack on the poor Duchess? I really don't read it as such.

Is monarchy a suitable institution for a grown-up nation? I don’t know. I have described how my own sympathies were activated and my simple ideas altered. The debate is not high on our agenda. We are happy to allow monarchy to be an entertainment, in the same way that we license strip joints and lap-dancing clubs. Adulation can swing to persecution, within hours, within the same press report: this is what happened to Prince Harry recently. You can understand that anybody treated this way can be destabilised, and that Harry doesn’t know which he is, a person or a prince. Diana was spared, at least, the prospect of growing old under the flashbulbs, a crime for which the media would have made her suffer. It may be that the whole phenomenon of monarchy is irrational, but that doesn’t mean that when we look at it we should behave like spectators at Bedlam. Cheerful curiosity can easily become cruelty. It can easily become fatal. We don’t cut off the heads of royal ladies these days, but we do sacrifice them, and we did memorably drive one to destruction a scant generation ago. History makes fools of us, makes puppets of us, often enough. But it doesn’t have to repeat itself. In the current case, much lies within our control. I’m not asking for censorship. I’m not asking for pious humbug and smarmy reverence. I’m asking us to back off and not be brutes. Get your pink frilly frocks out, zhuzh up your platinum locks. We are all Barbara Cartland now. The pen is in our hands. A happy ending is ours to write.

But poor Mantel - she is fat and barren, and that is the absolute pits for any woman, even for a Booker Prize winner, even in 2013. As my old granny would say, such a female is "neither use nor ornament". There'll be no happy ending for her, I fear.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Tue 19 Feb 2013, 17:02

After reading the essay I thought Hilary M was actually attacking the media's (and the public's) demands on Kate, Diana and the royals, and how the royals are seen from the outside. But instead of a bit of soul searching the media would rather take her words out of context, and suggest that it was an attack on Kate herself. I didn't think it was what HM was saying at all.

I'm not a fan of Hilary's books, I think she tries to be a little too clever but, in this case, it is a wee bit unfair.

Temp you may enjoy this article instead of the Daily Wail
http://www.newstatesman.com/cultural-capital/2013/02/hilary-mantels-precise-unkind-words-have-been-twisted-venomous-attack-kate

Temp again, I thought the theory on Keller's in your link quite fascinating. I'd often wondered if Henry had some form of incompatability with blood type, or something along those lines anyway. Surely Henry had to have been the problem, all those women and so few living children?


Last edited by Islanddawn on Tue 19 Feb 2013, 17:16; edited 1 time in total
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Tue 19 Feb 2013, 17:09

Thank God - I thought I was going crazy!

This is good too!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/19/hilary-mantel-duchess-cambridge-scandal

That Mantel's speech was ultimately a call for restraint when covering the
royals only adds irony to the ridiculous.




PS Re Kell antigen theory - isn't it interesting? I know nothing about this as a possible explanation for Henry VIII's fertility problems.


Last edited by Temperance on Tue 19 Feb 2013, 17:43; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Tue 19 Feb 2013, 17:17

Yes, I do realise that Mantel was expressing condemnation of public/press expectations of such as Kate but it was wrong to have used such graphic speech about her - surely the woman knew how much could have been taken out of text? She is not that dumb. When speaking/ writing for public consumption every word must be be mentally aired before delivery. By asking us to back off and not be brutes about such as Kate when she has just hung the girl out to dry is either very naive or horribly calculated. Her fine writing is very well honed and edited before delivery otherwise. Though she may be accustomed to making shrewd or opinionated observations about people in history using living ones to make a point needs more sensitivity of expression; of those who cannot make reply, anyway. And give the girl her due, if kate is only dressing and behaving as she thinks the public want, she ain't 'alf good at it.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Tue 19 Feb 2013, 17:43

Good article here about the Kell antigen and Henry.

Proper science too.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110303153114.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Tue 19 Feb 2013, 17:54

Above link ref far more interesting than 'Asperity of Mantel Speech' discussion.

Ver interesting science - fascinating when applied to History but frightening when applied possibly to living people one knows.... oh dear - amI back to Mantel? that was unintended. I had never heard of that Kell anitgen stuff - are couples tested for it?
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Tue 19 Feb 2013, 18:38

Henry's leg ulcers and decreased mobility could still have been diabetes though, both are symptoms in advanced stages. And Mary Boleyn supposedly had two children by Henry, not only the one. Unless she was Kells positive also? If I'm reading this correctly?

But this Kells is still be best theory for Henry's problems that I've read so far.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Tue 19 Feb 2013, 20:40

Temperance wrote:
Don't think Cameron bothered to read it before passing judgement.
I'm not sure anyone is that bothered about David Cameron's judgement to be honest. After all, this is the UK prime minister who today referred to the Duchess of Cambridge as being 'Princess Kate'.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Tue 19 Feb 2013, 21:27

Thanks for the link Temp, I awoke this morning to Ms Mantel's unmistakable tones but I've only heard the edited extracts on the news.
I can't believe she didn't foresee the hullabaloo that this would provoke so what, I wonder, was her game? Perhaps she doesn't care and is just happy to express her views which I certainly enjoyed reading even if I found the idea of her Madge being so discomfited by Hil's stare that she was visibly 'hurt and bewildered'. She does get a bit carried away with herself at times, is her fiction the same?
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Tue 19 Feb 2013, 21:56

ferval wrote:

She does get a bit carried away with herself at times, is her fiction the same?

At times - the book about the medium is a bit odd.

This is another very good article - "Hilary Mantel: why novelists are deliberately misunderstood":

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2013/feb/19/hilary-mantel-duchess-of-cambridge-controversy

The comments are worth reading too.

For anyone who, like me, missed Cameron's "Princess Kate" remark, it's here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/video/2013/feb/19/hilary-mantel-comments-on-kate-middleton
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Wed 20 Feb 2013, 02:06

Hilary has made it all the way over here, probably because her subject was Kate. I wonder how many extra books she will sell after her revelations.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10866513
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Wed 20 Feb 2013, 05:36

ferval wrote:
She does get a bit carried away with herself at times, is her fiction the same?

ALL the time in Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies! Although the essay was quite well written, I thought, there was a large chunck of it that we could have done without.

I agree that she must have known what she was doing though, an author of her experience. Is she is drumming up publicity for a new book possibly?
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Wed 20 Feb 2013, 05:41

One of our commentators called it a superb piece of writing and complained about lazy journalists who cherry pick the parts they can denigrate.

I just read it and it was a really good read, thought provoking
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Wed 20 Feb 2013, 10:17

Definitely thought provoking Gran, HM certainly got everyone talking. Even if much of it was missing the point of the piece entirely.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Wed 20 Feb 2013, 15:48

Alison has spoken!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/kate-middleton/9880185/Duchess-of-Cambridge-the-perfect-royal-consort.html

A scrap between Weir and Mantel - now that would be worth watching.

A deliciously bitchy comment from Julie Burchill today (now she really can do bitchy - she makes Hilary Mantel sound like Little Weed). Commenting on the Duchess of Cambridge's degree, JB says that reading History of Art at the University of St. Andrews is "the modern equivalent of flower arranging for girls whose mothers are keen for them to marry well."

Ouch.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Wed 20 Feb 2013, 16:51

Quote :
A scrap between Weir and Mantel - now that would be worth watching.

I'd have a tenner on Mantel right now if Honest Nordy, the punters' friend, was running a book.
But wait, might Ms Weir be a little underhand, sucking up to the judges and pleasing the crowd? No, give me back my money, I'll need to wait for the odds to be declared.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Wed 20 Feb 2013, 17:18

I'd say Weir is definitely sucking up to one and all. Either she only bothered to read the Daily Mail or she has no comprehension. Which could always be possible, if reports of her historical inaccuracies are true anyway.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Wed 20 Feb 2013, 17:47

And perhaps a Lucien Freud style artist might do a painting/ photo shot of Ms Mantel? Not known for selecting slender subjects nor interested in featuring fashion or clothes of any kind, come to that, such forthright view might well convince the press that there are better ways to project an image which does not nurture popular taste or conform to pressure. Ms Mantel might also put her splendid intellect and worthy degrees to bettering society than to recooking old dishes in the safety of historical fiction.

It is not the content of her essay but the clever manner in which she manages to denegrate The Duchess in much the style of faint praise that annoys me. A clever writer might well try to write a similar piece about how wrong it is to denegrate a fllabby , gapped toothed barren writer for speaking her unpleasant mind to titilate popular assumption about award winning intellectuals.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Wed 20 Feb 2013, 19:56

It's 3.00am here in the UK, and I've woken up after dreaming about that dreadfully disturbing Lucian Freud picture. I've decided to delete it.

This whole debate runs so much deeper than a mere discussion about whether a privileged young woman - our lovely Duchess of Dolorous Guard - has been cruelly wronged, by Mantel or whoever. It really is all about how we view women, and what makes a woman acceptable in our society.

I woke up with two things going round and round in my head: a strange little poem which was written in 1906 by Frances Cornford, and something I myself said about Hilary Mantel here several months ago - I think on the Role Model thread. Here's the poem:


To a Fat Lady Seen From the Train

O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?
O fat white woman whom nobody loves,
Why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
When the grass is soft as the breast of doves
And shivering sweet to the touch?
O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?

Writing on the other thread, I mentioned how some friends and I had been discussing women whom we admired. One of these friends turned to me and said, "Now be honest, ***, who would you really rather be, Hilary Mantel or the Duchess of Cambridge?"

I hesitated, and then answered, "Hilary Mantel, but a very slim Hilary Mantel."

I then added how we all laughed, but that on reflection my comment wasn't funny at all. A young woman these days is to be pitied if she is fat: an older woman is to be pitied if she is childless. To be both is unforgiveable. Perhaps that's why, at my advanced age, I still have nightmares (literally, hence my typing this in the early hours) after looking at Lucien Freud pictures. Childless I may be, but fat - God forbid. There is an irony in that which I won't go into.

What a complex matter this is - fifty years of so-called progress for women and yet...

But to end on a happier note: G. K. Chesterton of all people - grumpy old misogynist that he was - proved to be an unexpected champion of Cornford's despised fat lady. He wrote this in reply to her horrid little piece of verse:

The Fat White Woman Speaks

by G. K. Chesterton

Why do you rush through the field in trains,
Guessing so much and so much?
Why do you flash through the flowery meads,
Fat-head poet that nobody reads;
And why do you know such a frightful lot
About people in gloves as such?
And how the devil can you be sure,
Guessing so much and so much,
How do you know but what someone who loves
Always to see me in nice white gloves
At the end of the field you are rushing by,
Is waiting for his Old Dutch?

PS A.N. Wilson has had a go at Hilary Mantel for being a jealous, fat, infertile old cow. He was writing in yesterday's Daily Mail.

PPS Will attempt to get some sleep now.


Last edited by Temperance on Thu 21 Feb 2013, 03:48; edited 2 times in total
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Thu 21 Feb 2013, 03:14

Have edited message I sent yesterday evening.

I hope the Lucian Freud picture didn't give anyone else nightmares.

But back to history.

Here's Dr. Tim Stanley who thinks that Mantel's portrait of our future queen is "snobby, inaccurate and sexist".

Look for the personality beneath the crown and you'll often find a woman who is very intelligent indeed. Hopefully Kate will prove to be more Elizabeth I than Marie Antoinette.

It's an interesting article, especially his comments on Marie-Antoinette.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/timstanley/100203563/hilary-mantels-take-on-kate-middleton-is-snobby-inaccurate-and-oddly-sexist/


PS Comments on Hilary Mantel elsewhere are, predictably, moving on. "Fat", "barren", "ugly", "infertile", "jealous" and "old" are now losing out to words that suggest that the writer's mental state is a bit dodgy: "mad", "weird", "strange" are cropping up fairly frequently.

But I too am guilty: as well as passing judgement on the woman's weight, I have described her as being "a bit weird", as a "strange woman". Embarassed Perhaps Priscilla is right, and we should all remember what we were taught as children: "If you can't say anything nice, say nothing."
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Thu 21 Feb 2013, 09:55

Thank you for the Chesterton riposte, Temp. I have long thought of similar myself with no idea that it had been done. It is so easy to make judgments - and so often we are wrong. It's easier in an interview situation because questions are relevant to the post, what the candidate chooses to reveal/concoct in an application and what happens during the interview. On the other hand guessing about strangers with imagined scenarios about them keeps us interested in people - to be so often modified as truths unfurl; people watching is fascinating. Sounding off at the gob, however is another matter. However, for those who stand apart in the game of life, social skittling must be accepted as part of the territory. I am glad you removed the Freud pic though it underpinned what I had said in a rush to the mouth; perhaps the grossness of my somewhat unworthy remark was shaft enough. I shall not edit out it though.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Thu 21 Feb 2013, 10:02

Right - moving on to anothe Royal Body. You will know something to add to this one for sure. What truth is there in the Henry V111/Anne of Cleves tale that they played cards on their wedding night? He having been untaken by her looks one assumes they played something like 'Old Maid ' and not '5 Card Stud.' I recall feeling very sorry for her when I first heard of his dismay of seeing her. I hope her convent life was acceptable.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Thu 21 Feb 2013, 10:08

Hmmmm.

We are, perhaps, confusing two issues here. On the one hand, we appear to have the "women are defined by how they look" issue. Someone like Julie Burchill might rightly rail against that, but her unerring tendency to replace one piece of silly discrimination with another (for her, the question is always "everyone is defined by what social class I decide they belong to") renders her opinions as vapid and irrelevant as those she seeks to challenge.

On the other hand, we have a deep seated admiration of royalty. Kate isn't only seen as a woman - she's also a princess who stands a very good chance of becoming a queen one day. If we are going to continue with colourful anachronisms like a monarchy, do we not also have to accept that those anachronisms will be accompanied by a baggage train of equally anachronistic views of what it means to be royal - to whit, that all of the men should be handsome coves with superior martial ability (they still all join the forces, over 500 years after we decided that kings leading their men into battle wasn't absolutely necessary) and all the women should be demure and pretty Rapunzel types who can pop out healthy heirs?

It was ever thus - the Fisher King motif is still well and truly with us.

Regards,

AR
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Thu 21 Feb 2013, 11:13

Priscilla wrote:
Right - moving on to anothe Royal Body. You will know something to add to this one for sure. What truth is there in the Henry V111/Anne of Cleves tale that they played cards on their wedding night? He having been untaken by her looks one assumes they played something like 'Old Maid ' and not '5 Card Stud.' I recall feeling very sorry for her when I first heard of his dismay of seeing her. I hope her convent life was acceptable.

Whether they played cards, I couldn't say, though there seems to be universal agreement the marriage was not consummated so they must have done something with their evening! I agree one can't help feeling sorry for her, but perhaps in the end she got the best deal: a generous settlement and a close friendship with Henry without the risks associated with being his wife.

It's been said that Holbein's portrait of Anne must have been overly flattering, but that would seem to be uncharacteristic of his work, not to mention against instructions. To my eyes she's hardly a stunner, but still quite attractive, which seems to fit descriptions of her as "of middling beauty", with the portrait also matching her reported "very assured and resolute countenance". I would guess that Henry's expectations had been built up in other ways. (It's also a little puzzling that Henry supposedly thought her unattractive, yet did not believe her to be a virgin).

As for Hilary Mantel and the Duchess of Cambridge, whilst the former does have some good points to make on the attitude of the press, her views are shot through with a smug self-righteousness that does her few favours, and some of what she says about the Duchess is plain spiteful. The portrait, though, is dreadful, as was Freud's of the Queen (though in a different way). As far as the Freud portrait is concerned it speaks volumes that he felt he had to extend the canvas upwards and add the tiara to make it clear who the subject was!

***

On another note, without wishing to criticise or be a bore, and bearing in mind my own doubtless flaws, it's a pet hate of mine when in Roman numerals people write '1' instead of 'I'...
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Thu 21 Feb 2013, 12:12

Ah. AN, intruth I have never known quite what to type - should have known. I shall try not to offend again ! There, there, all better, eh?
It was not the Queen's portrait w were on about but one of the Freud nudes that Tenp added then edited off in the middle of the night - no tiaras there - and possibly a sofa without a subject would have benn altogether better.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Thu 21 Feb 2013, 12:15

And AR - does your name mean fisher king... I was only reflecting on the Arwr bit and came up with that. What do you mean by the Fisher King ref? My knowledge of most things is like chicken wire for gaps.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Thu 21 Feb 2013, 14:45

Anglo-Norman wrote:
It's been said that Holbein's portrait of Anne must have been overly flattering, but that would seem to be uncharacteristic of his work, not to mention against instructions. To my eyes she's hardly a stunner, but still quite attractive, which seems to fit descriptions of her as "of middling beauty", with the portrait also matching her reported "very assured and resolute countenance".
I feel pretty sure that Holein's poitrait of Anne was a good likeness ... but it is interesting that he painted her face on, whilst in nearly all his other portraits the sitter is inclined to one side giving more profile in the portrait. Anne I believe, though certainly not ugly, did have firm chin and quite a large nose ... both of which were made less obvious by painting her face straight on and emphasising her eyes . But was that Holbein's decision or had he been instructed to depict her that way by Wolsey?


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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Thu 21 Feb 2013, 15:16

Priscilla wrote:
And AR - does your name mean fisher king... I was only reflecting on the Arwr bit and came up with that. What do you mean by the Fisher King ref? My knowledge of most things is like chicken wire for gaps.

Hi Priscilla,

The Fisher King is a figure of literature who pops up most notably in the Grail stories. He is generally old and generally wounded - usually in the plumbing department. The fertility of the land is linked to the potency of the king and so it is often necessary to do away with the gammy old bugger in order to ensure that the land recovers under the governance of some firm buttocked young buck. It's a popular motif - I've always seen Theoden and Denethor in Lord of the Rings as representing something similar.

The name is laziness - it should properly be Ardwyre Reged, which is Old Welsh for "Arise Rheged" - Rheged being the name of a polity or (more likely) a title of overkingship of north western England in the 6th century. I thought a slightly abbreviated version would be less of a tongue twister......

Regards,

AR
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Thu 21 Feb 2013, 15:25

The Fisher King is a very confusing figure - he's the Wounded King or the Maimed King, P., in the Grail myths. Lots of different versions of the Fisher King story and ideas about him, but the motif crops up all over the place, from Eliot's "Wasteland" to modern films like "Apocalypse Now". It's all about death and rebirth, resurrection, healing - and the idea of the strong young god/king coming along to save the land from infertility and decay. Or something like that. You may be interested to listen to this "In Our Time" programme:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b008p0nv

I thought AR's point about young male royals having to prove themselves as courageous warriors even today was very interesting indeed - Harry sorting out the Taliban like a young Lionheart in his Apache helicopter (more fun flying one of those things, I should imagine, than just riding about on a big horse) and William in his, setting off with courage and determination to rescue the distressed and dying. It is, like the presentation of the beautiful and perfect Kate, all stuff from the Arthurian legends. Prince Edward and Sarah, Duchess of York though - gosh, they were something else: she was far too fat and frumpy to be a lovely Princess, and as for him... Abandoning the Marines to go poncing about with actors and other arty-farty types instead of being trained to *fight*! Heavens above! No wonder he got that modern equivalent of a red-hot poker up the backside - inches and inches of mocking comment in the Daily Mail.

And how interesting that you mention Anne of Cleves. I've no time now, but hopefully will say something about her tomorrow. Royal bodies or vile bodies? I often think the whole Flanders Mare fiasco started at Rochester when Henry burst in upon her disguised as a messenger - a sweaty, gross, ageing man with a stinking ulcer on his leg. I suspect her shock and disgust when his identity was revealed - horror no doubt swiftly concealed - registered with Henry. I don't think he ever forgave her.

On his wedding day the sulky Henry muttered to a very worried Cromwell that "if it were not to satisfy the world and my realm, I would not do that I must do this day for none earthly thing."

Doubtless his young bride (she was only in her early twenties) felt just the same.

EDIT: Put AW instead of AR.


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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Thu 21 Feb 2013, 15:26

Crossed posts, AR - sorry.

PS *Plumbing* department?! I thought he was wounded in the thigh!

EDIT: As above.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Thu 21 Feb 2013, 17:04

A bit of delicacy on the part of authors/translators, I fear. For "thigh" read what Pepys always amusingly referred to as his "mains". The impotence of the king reflects the impotence of his land.

Regards,

AR
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Thu 21 Feb 2013, 17:04

Double post - whoops a daisy!
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Fri 22 Feb 2013, 21:25


I spent an hour at least during the night thinking about this and what I thought and how to write it, but, of course, most of it is gone from my mind in the morning.

But now, just as I begin writing the very intelligent presenter on our radio is saying exactly what I was about to write. How could Hilary Mantel write about the Duchess of Cambridge in the way she did – and it wasn’t all just a repetition of what the media has said, some of it was her own feelings – and then end by saying "I’m asking us to back off and not be brutes." There is someone on our radio now (Mary Kay Wilmers) who says she is a friend, to some degree, of Hilary’s saying she was just describing Catherine but that’s not quite the case, is it? Nobody is characterless; what she means is she doesn’t show much personality and liveliness and variability in public. And Catherine presumably was included in the royal women who are just vaginas. What a horrid way to describe people. (The presenter here mentioned Kate perhaps marrying the man she loved, but this just brought a snort from Wilmers, though it’s what I assume. They met at a time and place when you fall in love.)

I don’t know at all why people can’t be allowed to be what they are and how they want to be. I don’t know why everyone’s looks, character, personality, interests have to be dissected for public entertainment at all, and that includes by good fascinating writers as much as by hack writers for newspapers. The royal family have become, perhaps always were, the subject of interest to ordinary people, but that shouldn’t mean they need to be pulled apart in every way. I have really seen this event mostly from this board, but I have also been very shocked at the way Mantel has been called barren and fat. Do people in Britain really refer to people as ‘barren’ these days? I have found over the years the media in Britain to be quite depressing in the way they put people into categories and define them that way. That’s where the lack of personality comes – people do have to be either monsters, or saints, or fallen heroes, or angels. There isn’t room for the infinite variety there is in a single human. And even Mantel is falling into what I consider this mistake. She seems to be assuming that what SHE sees is what there is.

As well, the bother Hilary Mantel has about the royals being caged – aren’t we all in cages of some sort? Not just gender (and the restraints of that affect men as much as women), but place, time, interests, personality, health, family connections, race, spouse, etc all conspire to put us in certain cages. Some are perhaps a bit easier to escape than others but generally most of us don’t have as much freedom as we perhaps think. As least as you get a bit older and have ties of family and work and expectations. I noticed some of this the other day. I have been going swimming a bit and wear my togs with a dressing gown so I can come straight home and shower and not have to use the cold changing rooms and struggle with a wettish body. The baths are across from the small supermarket and on occasions it would be convenient to pop in and get a (I was about to say bottle but sadly that era has gone) plastic container of milk. But despite the fact that my dressing covers me almost as much as a burqa, there’s no way I could be so radical as to wander through the shop dressed like that! We are restrained in all sorts of ways all the time.

I do feel perhaps that intelligent women like Mantel and you Temperance worry about these things more than is necessary – does it matter if one bright woman out of the millions in Britain doesn’t use her brain particularly after her marriage? All the others are expected to work and pay their way, one won’t matter. (I speak, of course, as someone who married and didn’t do much else, and does tend to think, "Well, I brought up three boys who are worthy of life and whose lives make a difference to others.") I can’t believe, though Temp, that you would really have considered for a second preferring to be Catherine Middleton to Hilary Mantel. The caged life isn’t what bothers me – but the constant constant lack of privacy, always having to be in the public eye, having your clothes and behaviour and dress analysed to the nth degree. I do feel very sorry for the royal family in this respect.

But how the monarchy behaves and how they are confined and even how that fits with the perception of women generally seems to pale beside a much greater concern for our age: why do men, when women want to leave them, feel the need so often to prevent this to the point of killing them? Is this just a sign of our times where there are more separations and we have only been saved from it in the past by ‘death do us part’, or is there something in the modern age that encourages this? How have they been brought up to view women? how have they been allowed to see themselves as the only person who matters? has narcissistic behaviour increased that much?
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Sat 23 Feb 2013, 08:58

Caro wrote:
I do feel perhaps that intelligent women like Mantel and you Temperance worry about these things more than is necessary - does it matter if one bright woman out of millions in Britain doesn't use her brain particularly after marriage?

Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful reply, Caro. Kate Middleton, like us all, made her own choice about that. But I do worry that a very seductive message is being sent out that will persuade many girls that the Duchess's choice is the right one: that to be happy all a woman needs to be is slim, beautifully dressed and married to a wealthy man. It's the female version of "the old lie". But I still suggest that Mantel was actually *not* worrying too much about that: she was in her lecture giving her historian's/writer's views on how the public views *royal* women. As AR says we are muddling two issues here (my fault). (It will be interesting if Mantel eventually comments on the furore her remarks have caused.)

I do however keep thinking about Lady Bertram from Austen's Mansfield Park, that "successful" woman who had snared a wealthy man, married him and then produced four children. She had a comfortable and easy life - she particularly enjoyed embroidering and sleeping. She is described as being the sort of woman who spent her life "sitting nicely dressed on a sofa".

Nothing wrong with sitting nicely dressed on a sofa of course (I hope to be doing just that this evening ), but...


Arwe Rheged wrote:


We are, perhaps, confusing two issues here. On the one hand, we appear to have the "women are defined by how they look" issue. Someone like Julie Burchill might rightly rail against that, but her unerring tendency to replace one piece of silly discrimination with another (for her, the question is always "everyone is defined by what social class I decide they belong to") renders her opinions as vapid and irrelevant as those she seeks to challenge.

On the other hand, we have a deep seated admiration of royalty. Kate isn't only seen as a woman - she's also a princess who stands a very good chance of becoming a queen one day. If we are going to continue with colourful anachronisms like a monarchy, do we not also have to accept that those anachronisms will be accompanied by a baggage train of equally anachronistic views of what it means to be royal - to whit, that all of the men should be handsome coves with superior martial ability (they still all join the forces, over 500 years after we decided that kings leading their men into battle wasn't absolutely necessary) and all the women should be demure and pretty Rapunzel types who can pop out healthy heirs?




I think AR says it all there, especially with his mention of "colourful anachronisms".

I'm sure their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess, don't give a hoot about any of this.

I did hesitate, Caro. Choosing your cage always needs a bit of careful thought.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Sat 23 Feb 2013, 21:50

Thanks for those nice comments, Temperance - probably more random than thoughtful!

I did mean to say as something of an aside that I am not used to novelists writing columns or being interviewed for their thoughts generally. Apart from the odd journalist turned novelist who perhaps write a sports column, I can't think of a NZ novelist who writes for a newspaper or who is interviewed on television or radio for anything other than their writing. (Well, sometimes there might be an in-depth interview with one about their lives or writing or thoughts generally.) I was quite surprised when we went to Britain in 2004 to see people I only knew as novelists (I think Libby Purves was one) having weekly columns in the Times or Daily Telegraph or Guardian.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Sun 24 Feb 2013, 06:47

Hilary M's comments weren't for a column or interview Caro, it was a talk and speech she gave at the British Museum. A lot of authors do that sort of thing, or are invited to do so, especially when promoting a new book.

I can't help but think that the women's rights activists of the past must be turning in their graves. All the struggle for free choice for women, and look at what many women have chosen and demand of others today, slim bodies, perfect hair and nice clothes. Merely clones of eachother and the efforts of the past are wasted.

And yes Caro, I'm still shocked at the cruel 'barren' criticisms too, in this day and age? Surely we must be kidding ourselves if we think women today have free choice? From the dictates of men possibly but not from eachother, it seems.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Sun 24 Feb 2013, 09:26

Islanddawn wrote:


I can't help but think that the women's rights activists of the past must be turning in their graves. All the struggle for free choice for women, and look at what many women have chosen and demand of others today, slim bodies, perfect hair and nice clothes. Merely clones of eachother and the efforts of the past are wasted.

And yes Caro, I'm still shocked at the cruel 'barren' criticisms too, in this day and age? Surely we must be kidding ourselves if we think women today have free choice? From the dictates of men possibly but not from eachother, it seems.

Yes - women beware women.

And you can add perfect children to the list, ID. Only a couple of weeks ago a group of ladies I was with were all comparing photos of their grandchildren - which is fair enough - but one said very loudly how "you couldn't help feeling sorry for childless women." Two of us there were part of this pitiable group, one by choice, the other (like Mantel) because of faulty plumbing. It is annoying; and I'm sure men don't do this.

But what the heck - that's life - no use whingeing.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Sun 24 Feb 2013, 10:21

Quote :
no use whingeing.

Quite right - a vigorous slap with a wet haddie would be much more effective and satisfying.




Quote :
It is annoying; and I'm sure men don't do this

A quote from today's Herald in an article pointing out the Snow White analogy in this saga.

"The idea that women fear, hate and despise one another is an old story and an ugly one. If we were to tell it about men we would simply say they were competative: we would not imbue it with fairy tale grotesquery. But where women are concerned, our culture too often makes out that it's all about the mirror."

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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Sun 24 Feb 2013, 10:59

I reckon HM must be having the last laugh though, her critics, by attacking her looks and childlessness (instead of arguing the points of her argument) have fallen into the very same attitude to royal women and others to which she was referring. Women are still seen as manequins and breeding machines and not respected for their intellect alone, and what is worse it isn't necessarily from the men, but us women also.

If Hilary ever comments on this brouhaha, she only need say, I rest my case.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Sun 24 Feb 2013, 13:49

But to return to royal bodies...

Henry VIII's ungallant mutterings about Anne of Cleves's virginity ("I liked her before not well, but now I like her much worse. For I have felt her belly and her breasts, and thereby, as I can judge, she should be no maid...") are rather ironic: he seems to have missed something when he came to bed Catherine Howard.

Catherine's Act of Attainder actually raised some formidable obstacles for any would-be future queen: "...if any loose-living woman dare marry the King 'without plain declaration before of her unchaste life unto His Majesty', it was treason. Adultery by or with the Queen or the wife of the Prince of Wales was treason. And failure on the part of the witnesses to disclose such offences was misprision of treason." (Starkey)

These key clauses of the Act were flagrantly retrospective, of course, so that Catherine and crazy Lady Rochford could be sent to the block, but it became the law of the land. I believe it is still treason to commit adultery with the Princess of Wales.

And here's Julie Burchill on royal virginity:

It's hard to believe now that in the decade which saw Mrs Thatcher rule the roost over a quaking nation that a 20-year-old woman's sexual innocence - or ignorance - was treated as some sort of prize above rubies. Not only were there rumours that the royal gynaecologist had certified Diana as a virgin bride, but her uncle, Lord Fermoy, saw fit to pronounce 'Diana, I can assure you, has never had a lover' to a somewhat bemused press conference. Add to this that her embarrassing father announced at the time of her birth that she was 'a perfect physical specimen' and it's a wonder that the elders of her family didn't lead her up the aisle with a ring in her nose and a bow around her neck.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Sun 24 Feb 2013, 17:27

I'm fairly sure that treason these days is only "compassing" the death of the sovereign, the heir or their respective spouses - adultery doesn't come into it (though I dare say some more excitable persons would say that it should).
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Mon 25 Feb 2013, 07:43

Anglo-Norman wrote:
I'm fairly sure that treason these days is only "compassing" the death of the sovereign, the heir or their respective spouses - adultery doesn't come into it (though I dare say some more excitable persons would say that it should).

Not so! Violating royal ladies meant you were for the chop - at least until 1998! The relevant laws however date back to 1351 - to the reign of Edward III, not to that of Henry VIII!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1581201/Treason-laws-outdated-says-Lord-Goldsmith.html

Any episodes that took place before her divorce from the Prince of Wales in 1996
could technically have seen her partners charged with treason. At the time, the
penalty was death. In 1998, this was replaced with imprisonment up to a maximum
of life.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7288516.stm

Or rather what the law actually said was in Norman French, but put succinctly in English, you can't kill, conspire against or wage war against the king and his family. You also can't have sex with his wife, heir's wife or his unmarried eldest daughter. And the act goes on to rule out actions against the chancellor, treasurer and various categories of senior judge.

I think the bit of the Edward III legislation which mentions the chancellor, treasurer and senior judges refers to killing them, not having sex with them.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Tue 26 Feb 2013, 03:36

Our treason laws seem to be either about waging war on NZ, overthrowing the government by force or just directly to do with the sovereign.

Everyone owing allegiance to her majesty the Queen in right of New Zealand commits treason who within or outside NZ (a) kills or wounds or does grievous bodily harm to Her Majesty the Queen, or imprisons or restrains her.

What if they don't owe allegiance? Do you owe allegiance if you are being processed as a refugee for instance? or if you aren't a permanent resident? Or do you automatically owe allegiance if you are here? But no mention of the family, or sex. Perhaps they felt that if the Queen wanted to have sex with you that was her business.

Our radio has had an interview with something I think they should have ignored. Some American called Suzanne something who has written a book telling women to detox their lives of feminism and modern media (while using examples of celebrity media ideas and people throughout her book). "Just be nice, cook and have sex." I think she might feel that was a jokey bit, but the message does seem to be just that.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Tue 26 Feb 2013, 12:07

I'm rather amused by the thought of the good people of NZ attempting to *restrain* Her Britannic Majesty. I cannot imagine her ever needing to be restrained.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Tue 26 Feb 2013, 15:03

Temperance wrote:
I cannot imagine her ever needing to be restrained.

Just wait until the Royal Alzheimer's starts to kick in. My late mum would've been the same age as her Madge ... and several year's ago now she managed to slip out of a secure hospital ward, and was eventually found by Hospital Security outside on the forecourt dressed just in her nightie but still violently berating a taxi driver for not understanding that there was an unexploded bomb at the end of her road and so he had to drop her off at Mrs Binstead's to avoid the ARP wardens ... and she flatly refused to believe him when he said that he wasn't even born in 1940!

But I guess when the time comes HM's minders will just keep her sedated with G&T's ... like they did her mother.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Wed 27 Feb 2013, 06:05

Meles meles wrote:
Temperance wrote:
I cannot imagine her ever needing to be restrained.



But I guess when the time comes HM's minders will just keep her sedated with G&T's ... like they did her mother.

Oh Lord, guess that's going to be the future for many of us, MM. Now there's a cheerful thought. Hope I'm not found wandering around in my nightie muttering about Richard III or Henry VIII.


I wonder how many royals have actually suffered from Alzheimer's? I suppose in the past not many of them lived long enough for the disease to take hold. But didn't Edward III go a bit odd towards the end of his life?

I'm sure I've read somewhere that Shakespeare's father may have been a sufferer - hence the dreadful black comedy in some of the "Lear" scenes (not that Lear was a *dementia* victim of course...).
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Wed 27 Feb 2013, 06:17

When I attended a natualization ceremony in NZ, (I get to keep UK nationality as well) I did not have to swear allegience to her madge because I was already a subject, it was before Uk joined Europe.New migrants from UK now have to swear allegience to her madge because they are now citizens of Europe.

The way things seem to be the Heir to the throne is going to get Altziemers before he gets to sit on the throne.
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Bodies   Wed 27 Feb 2013, 08:29

Temperance wrote:
But didn't Edward III go a bit odd towards the end of his life?

He certainly went into a sharp mental decline from c.1373 onwards, although the exact reasons are unclear. One proposed diagnosis has been a series of minor strokes, in the run up to the big one which is presumed to have killed him.
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