Mythologising History

The  2017 Reith Lecture from the BBC is given my historical author Dame Hillary Mantel - the writer of the hugely successful and regarding Sir Thomas More and the Court of Englands King Henry VII starting with her 'Wolf Hall' 2009 that was transformed firstly as a admired stage play and then adapted by BBC television in 2016 with staring Oscar winner actor Mark Rylance.

Ms Mantel lectures has been covering controversial topics such as the liberals that both historians and fiction authors take when looking back at perceived history and the liberties that both writers take with their subject and the complicate relationship between fact and fiction and that their respective audience (or readers) take from works as facts.

Whilst this is interesting one topic has yet to mentioned which is mythologies and how similar historians and literature authors come in constructing mythologies from their sources.

Ignoring for a moment some pockets of extreme religiosity most people in the 'civilised west' (for where I come from) resolutely do not believe any longer talking animals, giants living in clouds or people do not posses super strength from birth (given to them by their demigod father) People have no trouble in determining what is fact from fiction but and quite correctly Ms Mantel notes, believe absolutely in the history they where taught in school as fact be that that their country has  a divine right above other inferior nations, and that the course off history is of progression and that the values described in our histories authorised by the state and society is the norm and singular answer to worlds woes and it is uncomfortable when that is challenged.

History as it taught like novels is delivered in a narrative of logical progression of cause and effect  where no matter how much interpretation the facts of the events are immutable.

This diverges from mythologies narratives where the characters and narratives are more malleable until they are perceived by their native culture and religious fact, Basically they become histories usually set in a period BEFORE recorded history (or at the very least written history which unlike oral or visual methods can be transmitted over many many kilometres and years were there is little room for creative interpretation).

But I wonder if our approach to mythologies and history is not too different, within pop culture where our contemporary mythologies can be found characters who are increasingly more popular and well known than historical figures and whisper it, religious figures, characters such as Batman's and Superman origins are re-worked and their stories and histories re moulded as their inceptions pre-date most, of no all their current readers lives - just like the histories we constantly come back to find interpretations of our lives today.

Hillary Mantel may address this topic in later lectures but with my project that I'm undertaking and readers increasingly varied consumption of comics, film,documteries, books and drama  the difference between mythologies and historical fiction (academic or wholly fictional) looks increasingly blurred.