Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
Friday, May 3, 2013
When Susan Bordo began researching Anne Boleyn for another project, she found conflicting representations — Henry VIII’s second wife was the ultimate sinner, a misunderstood saint, a raven-haired schemer, a blond intellectual, the deformed bearer of a deformed fetus, the dignified mother of the king’s healthiest child.
Entranced not only by these depictions of Anne, but also by the woman herself, Bordo compiled her findings, thoughts and research into “The Creation of Anne Boleyn,” a book that examines Anne’s portrayal in books, movies and television. The result is a feast of feminism and history.
Bordo begins with the history of Anne and analysis of the historical sources from which we draw our information — most of them, she points out, are detractors eager to smear her. Their unreliable commentary turned into myth then crystalized into information commonly accepted as facts — Anne’s infamous sixth finger, her alleged sex with her brother, her machinations against various figures at court. Bordo pokes holes in each one, with assuredness and a touch of humor. It’s necessary background and a must-read for anyone who thinks “The Tudors” or “The Other Boleyn Girl” are factual, but it does drag a little for those familiar with Anne and the Tudors.
The most interesting parts are the research into Anne’s death — a fate even her critics admit she faced bravely — and an analysis of Henry VIII’s abandonment of the woman for whose hand he caused years of turmoil.
The last two-thirds of the book whiz by as Bordo analyzes how depictions of Anne have changed throughout the ages. The prudish Victorians cast her in their own image of an ideal woman and carefully hid any hints of sexual misbehavior, including premarital relations. After World War II, when women came to the fore, Anne gained spirit and edge. The early part of this century, with its “mean girls” culture, is personified by an aggressive, narcissistic queen. The examples play out in the context of the eras’ feminism and sexism, and from start to finish it’s an enthralling examination of culture and history.
Bordo supports her theories with examples straight from the primary sources and includes interviews with an impressive array of artists, including Hilary Mantel, the author of best-selling “Wolf Hall”; Michael Hirst, a writer for the hit TV show “The Tudors” and Natalie Dormer, who played Anne on the show; and Genevieve Bujold, who played the queen in “Anne of the Thousand Days.”
Bordo praises and skewers them, and other creative artists, as she sees fit, while also exploring the liberties writers take with historical fiction and why they do so.
As books about the Tudors go, “The Creation of Anne Boleyn” is a refreshing take on a key figure, one that does not scrutinize Anne but scrutinizes how society has felt about her over hundreds of years and why we feel strongly about her today.
In writing about this fascinating woman, Bordo has created a book that fascinates readers, and informs and entertains along the way.
Weather JournalPossible scrape with snow Tues