Freedom. Short good. Freedom. Even the name, select Hilary Mantel side. There is a bit of teenage rebellion in the title. Though in English called the book “A Place of Greater Safety”. Irony that is.
Both titles are signals that it is about author the freedom to tell his story just as she wants.
Since a few years Hilary Mantel a global name, but the author of Freedom was 22 years old and wrote about the funniest thing she knew: the French revolution. There is an immense amount published for those years at the end of the end of the 1700s where French citizen changing world history for good. Most of the books are written by older historians, the topic is huge so it takes time to load it.
But Hilary Mantel is the opposite. She did not reasonably everything about France in 1789 when she wrote her book. But she knew what she wanted to tell. She chooses the novel shape which naturally gives her greater freedom than historians usually have. But above all she is a child of his own time. This book is much more inspired by the film than in literature: this is Jean-Luc Godard’s rapid clip, Truffaut’s feel for youth, Chabrols fierce reflections of bourgeois boredom. Above all there is this assembly technique of Griffith and Eisenstein.
Mantle tells of some of the revolution’s protagonists: Danton, Robespierre and Supporting Actor: journalist Desmoulins, Duke of Orléans – but she talks about them before they take place on stage. She says sarcastically of rigidity, which would be the French Revolution a student uprising. She jumps between the large and the small, how a woman fall in love with the wrong man, how government bonds are structured, how acidic Marie Antoinette is, how hard it is to study for a lawyer. She cross-cutting between the bedroom and the conversations on the street, as she followed his protagonists with the invisible camera. Yes, she’s inside the head of them. She knows what they think, what they say. It is a revolution birth reality tv. And sometimes that soap opera.
Mantels stories about Cromwell is more dramaturgical conventional. But in the Freedom she uncontrollably curious, the energetic, sprallande happy when she realizes that she is free to put together the words she wants. Here are the facts, wonderful poetry, fiction irritating and delightful dialogues, for Mantel probably saw the occasional Humphrey Bogart film between visits to the archives.
The story ends when the revolution begins – with the storming of the Bastille. A slightly twisted history that is. But so was the French Revolution so unthinkable to most indications are that it has not occurred, but only a young writer’s dream.
mikael.timm @ sr.se
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