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Sunny Sunday Snippets

At last the sun has arrived in Wales so thought I would enjoy an afternoon reading in the garden and writing my Sunday Salon post under blue skies for once. Best laid plans etc etc – instead of peace and tranquility I spent most of the time trying to get the wi-fi connection to work.

Can Mantel do the double?

But I did manage to read a little more of Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s sequel to her Booker-prize winning novel Wolf Hall . in which she  conjures once again the forceful character of King Henry V!!!’s Mr Fix-It chief minister Thomas Cromwell. Bring Up the Bodies has the same  feeling of intimacy and immediacy as the earlier novel largely as a result because events are experienced through the prism of Cromwell’s consciousness and because Mantel uses the present tense narrative style. It gave me the sensation that I too was at the court, embroiled in the jostling for favour with the King and watching the drama of Henry’s  infatuation with Jane Seymour unfold and .  The style does however create one technical difficulty because   Mantel has to keep reminding us whose opinions or views we are actually seeing and sometimes that results in a rather clumsy construction. So we have at one point  ”He, Cromwell …….”. But it’s a minor gripe in what is otherwise a fascinating book.  We’ll know in a couple of days whether the pundits are right and Mantel is a contender for this year’s Booker Prize (the long list is announced ). Can Mantel make it a double?? If she does, she will join an elite list since only two other authors have won the prize for a second time….

Once Upon a Time..

I’ve been reading about the origins of the fairy story today. I never realised that they date from  seventeenth century France and were essentially oral stories told by peasants and were really aimed at adults. They didn’t become a literary form until the aristocracy took them up and began writing them as  a form of entertainment.  Initially they were felt inappropriate for children because they often contained bawdy or lewd elements but authors began realising they could be used for moral and didactic purposes and so rewrote them. By the twentieth century they were considered so important they were included on the schools curriculum in Britain.  It seems fairy stories have gone through cycles of reinvention and rejuvenation – there are more than 1,000 versions of Cinderella alone. There is a fascinating collection of versions of the canonical stories at http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/storytime/index.html which has been developed by a former librarian. I also discovered today that the Wizard of Oz is really a critique of American society – when Dorothy returns from Oz it is to discover that the banks are ruining local farmers (sounds familiar!)

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