How do we construct our pictures of the past, including both truth and myth, asks best-selling author Hilary Mantel.
How do we construct our pictures of the past, including both truth and myth, asks best-selling author Hilary Mantel. Where do we get our evidence? She warns of two familiar errors: either romanticising the past, or seeing it as a gory horror-show. It is tempting, but often condescending, to seek modern parallels for historical events. "Are we looking into the past, or looking into a mirror?" she asks. "Dead strangers...did not live and die so we could draw lessons from them." Above all, she says, we must all try to respect the past amid all its strangeness and complexity.
Over the course of the lecture series, Dame Hilary discusses the role that history plays in our culture. She asks how we view the past and what our relationship is with the dead.
The programme is recorded in front of an audience at Middle Temple in London, followed by a question and answer session.
The Reith Lectures are chaired by Sue Lawley and produced by Jim Frank.