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Hilary Mantel: Beyond the Booker

September 28 - November 2, 2021
Tuesdays, 6:00-8:00 p.m. (six sessions)
online via Zoom


Hilary Mantel is best known for her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, the first two volumes of which (Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies) won the Booker Prize (in 2009 and 2012). The third and final volume, The Mirror and the Light, was published to acclaim in 2020. These books are modern masterpieces, yet Mantel’s earlier novels are equally worthy of attention and admiration. Mantel’s books are so original, and so different from one another, that it’s often difficult to believe they were written by the same novelist. In this seminar, we will read two of Mantel’s novels and her memoir. Beyond Black is the tragi-comic story of Alison, a modern-day medium scraping out a living among an assortment of cranks, true believers, and charlatans. Haunted by the spirits that attend her and by her grim past, Alison struggles to break free of both. In Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, Mantel draws on her own life to tell the story of a trailing spouse who enters a suffocating, threatening world of secrets and prohibitions when her husband’s job takes them to Saudi Arabia. Giving Up the Ghost, Mantel’s beautiful, compelling memoir, immerses us in the world of her 1950s northern English childhood and charts her subsequent struggles with illness and the patronizing, destructive medical treatments that left her unable to have children, but fired with a desire to write. This seminar will introduce readers to the many voices, the dark vision, and the inventive, impeccable craft of one of the most talented writers working today.

Beyond Black (Picador 2005)
Eight Months on Ghazzah Street (Picador 1988)
Giving up the Ghost (Picador 2003)

Schedule of Readings
Weeks 1 & 2 (Sept 28, Oct 5)– Beyond Black
Week 1 – pp. 1-207
Week 2 – pp. 208-416

Weeks 3 & 4 (Oct 12 & 19) – Eight Months on Ghazzah Street
Week 3 – pp. 1-138
Week 4 – pp. 138-278

Weeks 5 & 6 (Oct 26, Nov 2)– Giving Up the Ghost
Week 5 – pp. 1-113
Week 6 – pp. 113-223

*Page numbers correspond to the following editions:
Beyond Black, Picador 2005
Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, Picador 1988
Giving Up the Ghost, Picador 2003

Access Program
We want our writing classes to be accessible to everyone, regardless of income and background. We understand that our tuition structure can present obstacles for some people. Our Access Program offers writing class registrations at a reduced rate. The access program for writing classes covers 60% of the class tuition. Most writing classses have at least one access spot available. Contact Susan Moore at susan@literary-arts.org if you would like to take a writing class at the Access Rate.


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Hilary Mantel
$ 240.00

Sara Atwood

Sara Atwood teaches English literature and writing at Portland Community College and Portland State University. She is Co-Director of the Ruskin Society of North America and has lectured widely, both in the US and abroad, on John Ruskin, education, the environment, and language. Her work has been published in Nineteenth-Century Prose, The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, and Carlyle Studies Annual. She is the author of Ruskin’s Educational Ideals and has contributed essays to a number of books, including Teaching Victorian Literature in the Twenty-First Century, John Ruskin and Nineteenth-Century Education, William Morris and John Ruskin, and Victorian Environmental Nightmares.
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