« | Home | »

Hilary Mantel’s Phantoms

Tags: |

Colin Burrow on Bring Up the Bodies in the LRB, 7 June 2012:

The word ‘haunting’ is much abused, but is absolutely, almost literally, right for this book… At one time or another almost every character (except plain, prosaic Jane Seymour) sees something like a spectre. Thomas Cromwell’s dead children are present in the novel’s very first scene, in which their names are given to falcons who seem to carry their spirits. The supposed lovers of Anne Boleyn are said to pass through the royal palaces like spectres. Even Wyatt is at one point compared to a phantom, as his ‘well-dressed shade, silken, slides across the window, blocks the cold starlight. On your way, phantom.’ When Cromwell’s house is quiet ‘dead people walk about on the stairs.’

Mantel is of course past mistress of phantoms. The thing in the corner that isn’t quite there but nonetheless occupies the centre of your attention because it can’t really be there.

Hilary Mantel in the LRB, 4 November 2010:

Three or four nights after surgery – when, in the words of the staff, I have ‘mobilised’ – I come out of the bathroom and spot a circus strongman squatting on my bed. He sees me too; from beneath his shaggy brow he rolls a liquid eye. Brown-skinned, naked except for the tattered hide of some endangered species, he is bouncing on his heels and smoking furiously without taking the cigarette from his lips: puff, bounce, puff, bounce. What rubbish, I think, actually shouting at myself, but silently. This is a no-smoking hospital. It is impossible this man would be allowed in, to behave as he does. Therefore he’s not real, and if he’s not real I can take his space. As I get into bed beside him, the strongman vanishes. I pick up my diary and record him: was there, isn’t any more.

Comments on “Hilary Mantel’s Phantoms”

  1. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Hillary Mantel says something rather interesting about vanishing phantoms at 24:36 in this BBC interview.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • fbkun on Justice for Théo: Polls show that more than half of French police(wo)men vote for the Front National. Quelle surprise...
    • jcscott on The Deep State: How we get rid of Trump is at least as important as whether we get rid of him. The best would be a progressive landslide election in 2020 repudiating ...
    • Oliver Miles on Shambles in Court: A very difficult problem, almost insoluble. Many people are quite unaware of it and just assume that if there is an interpreter there is no problem. I...
    • michael bosley on Arguing with Strangers: Meanwhile, in the UK, cuts in sexual health services are being made by stealth, with hardly any public/political debate. As a report by the Advis...
    • Mat Snow on Not So Innocent: Agreed. But I suspect that when Trump does meet Putin, such pressing issues as international terrorism, nuclear proliferation, drug trafficking and ot...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

Advertisement Advertisement