In response to my first post about Hilary Mantel's controversial recent article about Duchess Kate and the Royal Family, my friend Diana Birchall wrote: "You're probably right, Arnie, it was short-sighted of me not to see that Mantel isn't a compilation of brilliant effects and a couple of misjudged duds, she was doubtless orchestrating it all the way. "
Diana, not short sighted at all, it was actually your accurate comments about how strange it was that Mantel would so misjudge the reaction that instantly made me wonder if she actually had exactly anticipated, indeed desired, the reaction.
It is a gambit we see everywhere in Shakespeare's plays and JA's novels, both overtly and covertly, a clever manipulator "accidentally" provoking a self-revealing reaction from a naive reactor. And it's not just the Iagos, there can be good manipulators, too. I think Mantel is one of the latter, just as I think JA was also. I would love to chat with Mantel about Jane Austen.
Mantel in her article, viewed in context with the reaction to it, demonstrates the mighty power of the pen, when wielded by a brilliant, strategic satirist. She makes her direct points in her article, and she glosses those points by the reaction she provokes.
Of course, I don't know Hilary Mantel, and perhaps greed and desire for greater fame could be motivators for her writing this article. But my bet is that she did this for all the right reasons, she wanted to provoke a real and wide discussion about these sensitive issues, she was bravely willing to put her own body and face into play (just look at all the cruel and nasty comments about her appearance that have been lobbed in her direction) and she has admirably succeeded in getting a lot of people to think about this subject.
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George Washington's Diamond Eagle, 1784
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