Hilary Mantel makes a good point

(545 Posts)
juneau Tue 19-Feb-13 08:15:37

She shouldn't have said it, since it's bitchy and uncalled for (and I actually find HM rather odd, if I'm honest), but after a good couple of years in the media spotlight I struggle to think of one thing the Duchess of Cambridge thinks or believes in. She never gives an opinion, she barely speaks, she just looks pretty and smiles.

squoosh Tue 19-Feb-13 12:17:31

Maybe people should read the actual speech she gave and not just the bits that the Daily Mail have served up as a supposed 'venomous attack'.

www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n04/hilary-mantel/royal-bodies

She makes some excellent points and as fubbsy says she is actually discussing Kate's media image. The shrill reaction to this has been depressing but oh, so predictable. People are allowed to discuss the monarchy in a objective and critical way. Slavish devotion is fine if you're into that sort of thing. I am not.

PetiteRaleuse Tue 19-Feb-13 12:23:29

I have a feeling she was misquoted, so shall read the speech. I feel very sorry for KM - whatever she does it won't be right, and it takes a brave woman to marry into that role and family, especially as she is old enough to remember what happened to the last one.

SirEdmundFrillary Tue 19-Feb-13 12:27:59

I agree completely with FloatyBeatie:

'I've looked at it now, and The Mail piece is just a nonsensical distortion of Mantel's article in the LRB, which you can read here and which certainly isn't an attack on Kate Middleton.
As usual, the Mail is just out to create the impression that women hate women. Please don't read it as anything remotely true to what Mantel wrote. '

ComposHat Belgium Tue 19-Feb-13 12:28:38

I've listened to the whole lecture, it was well argued, funny well sourced and the bit about Katherine Middleton was only a small part of it, which unsurprisingly the press have taken out of context and twisted.

The rest of the lecture examines the role that the Royal family past and present have expected women to fulfil and the supposed 'criticism' of Kate Middleton was actually Hilary Mantel musing on the role the press, the public and the Royal Family expects women to fulfil.

HesterBurnitall Tue 19-Feb-13 12:30:05

It was a very thought provoking essay and far too complex to be reduced to the Mail's parody.

It strikes me that the way in which the Mail Online monitors and criticises women's bodies and behaviour in minute detail, including KM's over the years, is much more worthy of being labelled bullying than HM's musings on what we look for and see in a princess.

Chislemum Tue 19-Feb-13 12:32:48

Very relieved that MNs do the research.... I enjoyed HM's piece....

ComposHat Belgium Tue 19-Feb-13 12:39:18

It was a very thought provoking essay and far too complex to be reduced to the Mail's parody

Well the Daily Mail has never been known for its ability to embrace nuance, context or ambiguity, nor does it readership seem overburdened with thought.

greenhill Tue 19-Feb-13 12:46:46

I've just read the original HM essay from LRB too. It was very good.

Is anyone surprised that the DM wants to twist the words of a prominent, popular female author and try to make out that she is an unkind woman hater?

Do you think it is all part of the DM misogynistic agenda of belittling everything that women achieve? (Bears/ woods analogy)

PetiteRaleuse Tue 19-Feb-13 13:01:35

Excellent essay. Shame the DM or others felt the need to twist it like that. She actually comes across as very sympathetic to KM.

fossil971 Tue 19-Feb-13 13:35:53

I agreed with HM's piece from what they read out on the Today programme. It wasn't anything personal about her intelligence or integrity, but the way she is presented in the media. I suspect if I was Kate I would give a wry smile and think, she's hit the nail on the head. The fact is the media are so one-sided in what they want to see - simpering, thin, glamorous, silent- there's not really any point rocking the boat. It's like on your wedding day when you have a smile nailed to your face until it aches in case someone takes a picture of the grumpy bride.

I'm sure given time and when young family are out of the way she will get stuck into patronage of good causes etc.

The piece mentions the Duchess of Cambridge as opposed to a pop star because HM is writing on the theme of Royal women.

I feel sorry for Kate. She has been sold the biggest lie on earth. She cannot win in anything she does. Doomed 100%. Of course she isn't allowed an opinion but this is not her fault. Young, naive when she bought into it...........sigh.

I really must disagree. KM was nearly 30 when she married and had been in this relationship for about 8 years IIRC. She is a graduate from one of the best universities in the UK and one helluva smart cookie.

HM was attempting to deconstruct the public role of royalty in the 21st century - just what you'd expect from one of our most eminent historical writers. I personally think KM and the royal PR team know EXACTLY what they are doing. By being utterly bland, staying acceptably uber-skinny (the only way a woman in the public eye is deemed to be aceptable) and never ever opening her mouth she gets to be left alone to a far greater extent than someone attention seeking and/or controversial. It's the only way she'll ever have any degree of privacy in her life.

Anyone notice how Harry's role is always to be the 'bad boy' hmm of the Firm, thus conveniently deflecting attention and/or criticism from his infinitely more 'important' older brother and spouse? They pulled the same stunt with his uncle Andrew v. Charles back in the day. Shame Harry's pecadilloes are so desperately tame these days. They'll have to manufacture something a bit more juicy than some pissed nudity amongst mates before the Royal Birth <vom>.

ComposHat Belgium Tue 19-Feb-13 13:42:53

I agree with everything you write apart from the below Lapsed

She is a graduate from one of the best universities in the UK and one helluva smart cookie

St Andrews? The home of the chinless posh twits too dim not only for Oxbridge, but Durham and Bristol too!

exoticfruits Tue 19-Feb-13 13:51:38

Maybe she was misquoted-I only heard the bit on the news.

I just think that it is incredibly cruel.

I know this used to be seen as the case, but my severely dyslexic DH went there in the 1980s. He was the only member of his extended family to continue education past 16, and he didn't even have O and A levels (ONC/HND instead). And he met a lot of other very bright working class kids there too.

But last time I checked they were asking for very high grades for Humanities subjects nowadays, and TBH, I don't think not getting the grades for Oxbridge, Durham or Bristol means one is necessarily dim.

Greensleeves Tue 19-Feb-13 13:54:38

God I didn't think I could love Hilary Mantel more than I already did

but I do

seeker Tue 19-Feb-13 13:55:47

Just wondering if the people offering their views have actually read Hilary Mantel's quite long article? Shall I link to it?

Oh, and hands off St Andrews!

Darkesteyes Tue 19-Feb-13 13:55:49

So pleased that some can see through the Mails usual "women against women" bollocks.

Just seen this tweet from Julian Simpson. He says hes loving the fact that what Mantel said is clearly the media/establishments view of Kate and that most of the media are too stupid to spot it.

seeker Tue 19-Feb-13 13:57:12

Ah, I see someone already has.

Would reading it be a good idea? Just a thought......!

SilentSplendidSun Tue 19-Feb-13 14:04:05

Now Cameron has waded into the fray. Tsk.

I agree with you, Lapsedpacifist. "By being utterly bland, ...she gets to be left alone to a far greater extent." There is a degree of truth in that.

But Hilary Mantel seems to deplore this blandness. From her article:

"Kate seems...without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character. Kate seems capable of... Kate appears to have been designed by committee"

All this conjecture and speculation, when she hasnt had any personal interaction with the Duchess. Isn't Mantel as bad as the tabloids in ldressing up her opinion to make it read like a fact?

Unlike her hero Cromwell, she has been quite gauche. However well written the essay, she is naive to think the general public will not react to certain words. And I stand by my original assertion. Hurtful.

I don't care one way or the other if her "victim" was Kate. But its sad to see Hilary has gone the way of a majority of the British print media- to make a point, savage any celebrity and damn the consequences...

axure Tue 19-Feb-13 14:07:25

I don't think KM is all that smart, for a 30-something graduate who has been groomed for years ready for one of the most prominent posts in the world, her public speaking skills are woeful, and as others have said what interests does she have? She doesn't appear to be very knowledgeable about anything, not surprising as she has zero work experience and now seems to be planning to be a SAHM for the next decade, then she might decide to do something as she approaches middle-age. What a waste of all the opportunities she had given to her.

SilentSplendidSun Tue 19-Feb-13 14:10:47

What opportunities? She doesnt have any. She has to be a walking, talking doll like Mantel says she is. Sad, but true. I dont think she can decide to do or take up anything on the whim of the moment, unless it has been heavily vetted by the posse around her.

She doesn't appear to be very knowledgeable about anything <sigh>

That is the whole point. She doesn't appear to be very knowledgeable. Being 'knowledgeable' is not what Royal Females are for. And she is very well aware of this.

axure Tue 19-Feb-13 14:18:36

Even prior to her marriage she chose to do nothing, she just seems so boring. Other members of the Royal family are involved in sport, or are passionate about organic farming etc. All I know about KM is that she played hockey at school, shes turned 30 now!

ComposHat Belgium Tue 19-Feb-13 14:22:36

Axure Isn't that the whole point about the media/palace image they have built up around Katherine Middleton? The fact that she is a blank canvas means that people can project whatever fantasies they like onto her gaunt frame.

axure Tue 19-Feb-13 14:23:24

Well pardon me LapsedPacifist but The Queen is well known for being highly knowledgeable on all manner of subjects. I certainly wouldn't regard her as walking talking doll. <SIGH>

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