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Tony Grist

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A Ramble Round Early Tudor England [Feb. 16th, 2015|10:59 am]
Tony Grist
I watched the first episode of Wolf Hall and then joined the ranks of the several million who didn't bother to return for a second look. Yes, it's perfectly fine and Mark Rylance is splendid, but...

I've read the books,

I know the history (I did the Tudors at "O" level),

I've seen The Private Life of Henry VIII, The Six Wives of Henry VIII and A Man For All Seasons,

I'm not that interested in Henry VIII. (Well I'm a little bit interested- but I don't want him for breakfast, dinner and tea)

And Wolf Hall isn't Mantell's best book. Her best book is Beyond Black.

Incidentally, I thought Waldemar Januszczak made a good point when he suggested that our fascination with the Henrician court has a lot to do with Hans Holbein, who- during his time in England- produced the greatest group of portraits of any power elite ever. Thanks to him we know exactly what these people looked like.

Except of course for Anne Boleyn. After her death there was a positively Stalinist campaign to make it as if she'd never existed- and the only undisputed image we have of her is on a lead medallion- and it's badly scuffed. Now- thanks to a recently developed facial recognition programme- there's another contender. It's not a particulary good painting- probably the copy of a copy of a copy- but the face is a good, strong face- and if there's one thing we know about Anne it's that she was amazingly strong.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: glitzfrau
2015-02-16 11:49 am (UTC)
I absolutely agree with every single word here. The King's bloody Great matter, again, again, the reduction of history to soap opera, when the sixteenth century was in fact so bloody crucial in creating social and political legacies that are still with us today. And yes. Beyond Black is stunning. Wolf Hall is just dreary.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-02-16 11:57 am (UTC)
I'd like to see a drama about the abolition of the monasteries that looks at that extraordinary social upheaval from the pov of your actual monk or nun. The human and cultural cost was enormous (and I suppose there were gains as well)- but every fiction I know about the Tudors treats it as noises off.
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[User Picture]From: glitzfrau
2015-02-16 12:07 pm (UTC)
Yes! Exactly. And the pov of your actual village that was dependent on the monastery to provide social welfare. And the pov of your actual Northerner who was harried. Hugely interesting, far more important than tired dramas asking whether Anne B was a vamp or a feminist icon yawn.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-02-16 12:26 pm (UTC)
I suspect- and I think I'm being serious here- that there must a fear of opening old wounds. Better not to remind the common people of the enormous crimes that have been committed against them by the ever so interesting elite.
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[User Picture]From: glitzfrau
2015-02-16 12:30 pm (UTC)
Oh I couldn't agree more. It is depressing but true. Just look at all the nonsense taking up oxygen in the press now about Prince Charles, as though he mattered.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-02-16 01:43 pm (UTC)
Indeed. Why should his views matter more than those of any other silly, self-pitying old hippie?
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2015-02-17 08:10 pm (UTC)
Yes, the bloody Tudors again - but this is an exercise in Machiavellian politics and an amazing study of how a good man becomes a pawn in a power game. I find it fascinating.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-02-17 09:16 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed the books- and I'll almost certainly read the third in the trilogy when it comes out.
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[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2015-02-19 11:01 am (UTC)
I have the first book to read so i think i should just read that and forget about the TV series.
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