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5,0 von 5 SternenAmaing Memoir of a Strong Woman
21. Mai 2017 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Giving up the Ghost is a tour de force and a tribute to an amazingly strong woman. Writing as beautifually and precisesly as she does in Wolf Hall and Bringing up the Bodies, Ms. Mantel manages to craft together the pieces of her history without becoming either maudlin or relapsing into uncontrollable fury. Given that she was an immensely gifted child and then young woman and that she was humiliated and butchered by unforgivable medical treatment in Britain, the fact that she maintained her sanity and came through it all to write beautifully crafted books is amazing. She has my complete admiration.
In her memoir, Giving up the Ghost, Hilary Mantel obliquely tackles a subject much debated in psychoanalytical circles of a century ago and revisited by feminist literary critics from 1968 onward: To what degree is female ambition and achievement in the arts ( or any field, for that matter) a compensation for an unfertile womb, and in what way is artistic creativity in women related to mental instability and even madness? In our post-feminist era such suggestions sound outrageous, reactionary. We are accustomed to thinking that we can and will have it all. But slip back fifty, then one hundred years or more and examine the lives of great women writers and poets. Virginia Woolf insisted that without leisure time, education, private income, and a space to write, a woman could not produce literature, hence the demands of motherhood and marriage might be a serious obstacle. Emily Dickinson, a spinster, withdrew from the world, Charlotte Bronte died of a pregnancy related illness with her unborn first child, Elizabeth Bishop was gay, Sylvia Plath found both marriage and motherhood devastating. Mantel reminds us that in her formative years, a time not so long ago, women were expected to stay home and to become homemakers, and though England already had a long tradition of penwomen, it was no easy journey to become a writer. This memoir is about how a poor, "neverwell" child of Irish origins, from a disadvantaged family became one of the world's most celebrated novelists, twice winning the Man Booker prize, an unprecedented feat. Home was drab lodgings without a bathtub, with few books, where her mother maintained an unusual ménage living, for a time, with both her husband and lover. The latter would be the one to rescue Hilary and her family, giving them the dignity of a real home and a new name. At school this pale, phlegmatic child was at times picked on, grudgingly admired, avoided. As she fashions her story, she gives us echoes of other stories we know and love. The rage that bubbles within her at school recalls Jane Eyre's ( and indeed she claims, Jane Eyre is the story of all women writers). Her descriptions of the strange visions that sometimes inhabit her psyche echo moments of Turn of the Screw, in which she is both the governess and the malignant child, other moments, such as the eerie revelation of evil she glimpses in the yard might have been drawn from Stephen King filtered through Mary Butts. Ever since her childhood, she has been subject to visions, "seeing things" that "aren't there," she confesses, well aware that the inclusion in quotes somehow makes these ghostly presences more explainable or more acceptable to contemporary minds. Like Henry James, she never lets us know her own explanation for the ghosts she regularly sees: are they metaphors, the product of ophthalmic migraines, or projections of her own psyche? She suggests all these possibilities, tying in hormonal issues as a further explanation. The heart of Mantel's memoir focuses just on these issues, and the debilitating condition with which she battled for years, undergoing an early hysterectomy. The surgery turned out to be useless, as replacement estrogen worsened her symptoms and led to uncontrollable weight gain. The medical establishment had no remedy but was convinced she was the problem, not her disease. For many years she was given pain killers, antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs. Struggling to come to grips with herself, her pain, her changing and changed body, she starts writing again, but her doctors do not approve. Why not she asks. The chilling reply is simply "because." This was all happening ten years after Germaine Greer published The Female Eunuch. But luckily for us, Mantel kept at it, six years later published and was paid for her first story. At one point, she realized that she was unconsciously waiting for children who would never come. Empty bedrooms, an overfilled pantry, presses packed with sheets for too many beds were the telltale signs. Once she brought her mourning to the light, the unborn ghosts of her womb became novels. There is no self-pity in this memoir, which is poignant, unexpectedly funny at times. If anything there is too much self-control, and even minute traces of self-loathing. In handling the sections of her childhood, she shapes the story to the child's half understandings. The male figures, father, step-father, brothers, husband, are at best presences. Yet every sentence, every phrase in this book is breathtaking, artfully crafted, subtly shaped. We almost forget the message given at the beginning. If you want to be a writer " Rise in the quiet hours of the night, prick your fingertips, and use the blood for ink." But what we have read has been written in blood, product of pain, sacrifice, self-control, distance from oneself and from one's own ghosts. A real achievement.
5,0 von 5 Sternena demanding and petty man who didn’t seem to like Mantel much and found fault with her every move
6. April 2018 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
“But it was death he was sickening for, and it came suddenly, death the plunderer, uncouth and foulmouthed, kicking his way into their house on a night in April two or three hours before dawn,” is just a sample of the gorgeous prose Mantel can conjure. Here’s she’s talking about the death of her stepfather, and later, she talks of his ghost lingering on the stair. A large chunk of the memoir is about Mantel’s family, when her mother abandoned her husband and lived out of wedlock with Jack, a demanding and petty man who didn’t seem to like Mantel much and found fault with her every move, including her sitting too close to the fire to get warm. It’s a slight, book that brings the somewhat morose life of a writer to the page.
This is one of the best memoirs I've read and I'm a devourer of the genre. I was driven to this work by reading the two novels in the Cromwell series. I loved Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies and they both made a big impression on me - fine, fine work. Giving up the Ghost reveals the sensitive, fine mind and genius writer behind these books. Mantel's portrait of post was England is so subtle and deft, moving, enraging and somehow offering a kind of equilibrium, even peace, in the retrospective. Mantel did it so tough as a youngster and as an adult it got even tougher. There is no self pity, but there is a deep sense of fury at injustice and waste and this intense measured stream leads us to the woman who brought to life the enigma Thomas Cromwell and the monarch who changed religion in the western world :Henry VIII. British readers have so much to be proud of. Mantel is a hie credit to Britain and an inestimably important writer.