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The Day Is for the Living

Art can bring the dead back to life, argues the best-selling novelist Hilary Mantel, starting with the story of her own great-grandmother.

Art can bring the dead back to life, argues the best-selling novelist Hilary Mantel, starting with the story of her own great-grandmother. "We sense the dead have a vital force still," she says. "They have something to tell us, something we need to understand. Using fiction and drama, we try to gain that understanding." She describes how and why she began to write fiction about the past, and how her view of her trade has evolved. We cannot hear or see the past, she says, but "we can listen and look".

Over this series of five lectures, Dame Hilary discusses the role that history plays in our culture. How can we understand the past, she asks, and how can we convey its nature today? Above all, she believes, we must all try to respect the past amid all its strangeness and complexity.

The lecture is recorded in front of an audience at Halle St Peter's in Manchester, and is followed by a question and answer session chaired by Sue Lawley.
The producer is Jim Frank.

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42 minutes

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