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A Memoir of My Former Self: A Life in Writing

by Hilary Mantel

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
962287,829 (4.46)7
"In addition to her celebrated career as a novelist, Hilary Mantel contributed for years to newspapers and journals, unspooling stories from her own life and illuminating the world as she found it. "Ink is a generative fluid," she explains. "If you don't mean your words to breed consequences, don't write at all." A Memoir of My Former Self collects the finest of this writing over four decades. Her subjects are wide-ranging, sharply observed, and beautifully rendered. She discusses nationalism and her own sense of belonging; our dream life popping into our conscious life; the mythic legacy of Princess Diana; the many themes that feed into her novels--revolutionary France, psychics, Tudor England; and other novelists, from Jane Austen to V.S. Naipaul. She writes about her father and the man who replaced him; she writes fiercely and heartbreakingly about the battles with her health that she endured as a young woman, and the stifling years she found herself living in Saudi Arabia. Here, too, is her legendary essay "Royal Bodies," on our endless fascination with the current royal family. From her unusual childhood to her all-consuming interest in Thomas Cromwell that grew into the Wolf Hall trilogy, A Memoir of My Former Self reveals the shape of Hilary Mantel's life in her own luminous words, through "messages from people I used to be." Filled with her singular wit and wisdom, it is essential reading from one of our greatest writers" --… (more)
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Showing 2 of 2
30. A Memoir of My Former Self: A Life in Writing by Hilary Mantel
readers: Anne Enright, Aurora Dawson Hunte, Ben Miles, Bill Hamilton, Jane Wymark, Lydia Leonard, Nicholas Pearson, and Sarah Waters
OPD: 2023
format: 16:21 audible audiobook (432 pages in hardcover)
acquired: April 16 listened: Apr 16 – May 15
rating: 4½
genre/style: essays theme: random audio
locations: England, Saudi Arabia,
about the author: 1952-2022. A British writer whose work includes historical fiction, personal memoirs and short stories. She was born in Glossop, Derbyshire, and raised in the area.

I was a little worried about listening a bunch of essays I might not be interested in, but this turns out to be captivating stuff. These are a bit random, various things she wrote and published in different mediums through her life. The most mundane are probably her movie reviews, especially when I haven't seen the movie. But then her movie reviews are quite fun. Mantel on Robocop can be found within! Imagine that. It's better than you just imagined. She also reviews Wilt Stillman's Metropolitan, the first of three Stillman movies that I adore, and these are a little obscure.

But, to the point, there are simply some lightning essays in here. Many are about the Tudors and the [Wolf Hall] trilogy. Some about her other books, especially [A Place of Greater Safety], where she talks about the missing historical pieces in the French Revolution. Gaps in the record. Some are on overlooked women authors, really great stuff. She was an excellent writer, able to make her essays playful in a writerly way. She loved her sentences. Often she would write be very humbly, but with such sharp wit. Other times she comes across so starkly assured and confident, as if presenting proclamations from on high. I found that a little strange. But overall, I loved the collection and its richness. I really want to read [A Place of Greater Safety] now.

2024
https://www.librarything.com/topic/360386#8544876 ( )
  dchaikin | May 25, 2024 |
A broad breadth of Mantels essays and reviews across her lifetime. My favourite were the autobiographical pieces, and her 2017 Reith Lectures about history, and writing it as non-fiction or fiction and the complexities and liberations there in.

For me I got less from the reviews (book/film), I think because I was familiar, and often agreed with her views, so they didn't add anything to what I already thought. ( )
  Caroline_McElwee | Nov 5, 2023 |
Showing 2 of 2
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hilary Mantelprimary authorall editionscalculated
Aurora Dawson-HunteNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Enright, AnneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hamilton, BillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leonard, LydiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miles, BenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pearson, Nicholassecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waters, SarahNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wymark, JaneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"In addition to her celebrated career as a novelist, Hilary Mantel contributed for years to newspapers and journals, unspooling stories from her own life and illuminating the world as she found it. "Ink is a generative fluid," she explains. "If you don't mean your words to breed consequences, don't write at all." A Memoir of My Former Self collects the finest of this writing over four decades. Her subjects are wide-ranging, sharply observed, and beautifully rendered. She discusses nationalism and her own sense of belonging; our dream life popping into our conscious life; the mythic legacy of Princess Diana; the many themes that feed into her novels--revolutionary France, psychics, Tudor England; and other novelists, from Jane Austen to V.S. Naipaul. She writes about her father and the man who replaced him; she writes fiercely and heartbreakingly about the battles with her health that she endured as a young woman, and the stifling years she found herself living in Saudi Arabia. Here, too, is her legendary essay "Royal Bodies," on our endless fascination with the current royal family. From her unusual childhood to her all-consuming interest in Thomas Cromwell that grew into the Wolf Hall trilogy, A Memoir of My Former Self reveals the shape of Hilary Mantel's life in her own luminous words, through "messages from people I used to be." Filled with her singular wit and wisdom, it is essential reading from one of our greatest writers" --

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