Book of the Month: The Creation of Anne Boleyn

Title:  The Creation of Anne Boleyn

Author:  Susan Bordo

Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin

Pub Date:  April 9, 2013

How Acquired:  Bought

What it's about:  Part biography, part cultural history, The Creation of Anne Boleyn is a fascinating reconstruction of Anne’s life and an illuminating look at her afterlife in the popular imagination. Why is Anne so compelling? Why has she inspired such extreme reactions? What did she really look like? Was she the flaxen-haired martyr of Romantic paintings or the raven-haired seductress of twenty-first-century portrayals? (Answer: neither.) And perhaps the most provocative questions concern Anne’s death more than her life. How could Henry order the execution of a once beloved wife? Drawing on scholarship and critical analysis, Bordo probes the complexities of one of history’s most infamous relationships.

Bordo also shows how generations of polemicists, biographers, novelists, and filmmakers imagined and re-imagined Anne: whore, martyr, cautionary tale, proto “mean girl,” feminist icon, and everything in between. In this lively book, Bordo steps off the well-trodden paths of Tudoriana to expertly tease out the human being behind the competing mythologies.

What the critics are saying:

"A great read for Boleyn fans and fanatics alike"
Kirkus Reviews

"Ms. Bordo offers a fascinating discussion... a strangely tasty book."—The New York Times

"The University of Kentucky humanities chair does a superb job of separating fact from fiction in contemporary accounts of Boleyn’s life, before deftly deconstructing the myriad and contradictory portraits of her that have arisen in the centuries since her death. . . . The young queen has been the source of fascination for nearly half a millennium, and her legacy continues; this engaging portrait culminates with an intriguing exploration of Boleyn’s recent reemergence in pop culture." —Publishers Weekly

About the author:  SUSAN BORDO, Otis A. Singletary Chair in the Humanities at University of Kentucky, is the author of Unbearable Weight and The Male Body.

My thoughts:  It seemed fitting that I should choose The Creation of Anne Boleyn on the anniversary of Anne Boleyn's execution.  When I first picked up this book, I felt a sense of schadenfreude.  This was a book that I wish that I had written but once I started reading it, I felt a sense of kinship with the author.  She gets it! She was just as obssessed with Anne Boleyn as I am! If you were annoyed with The Tudors or you just want to dig deep into the life of Anne Boleyn and how people's perceptions of her have changed over the centuries, I urge you to pick up a copy of this book.  It is must for every Anne Boleyn fan out tehre.


Brooke said…
Thanks for posting about this. I'll definitely be reading this when I get my hands on a copy. I love Tudor era books and one of the most fascinating aspects of them is how the author chooses to portray key figures, especially Anne Boleyn. Other women in the Tudor era (especially Elizabeth I) also seem to be vulnerable to devil/saint dichotomy, but Anne seems to get the worst of it.
Susan Bordo said…
Thanks, Elizabeth, it's great to have "bonded" with another scandalous woman writer!! As it happens, your book is sitting on my shelf right now, tops on my list of summer reading...
You and your readers might also enjoy my recent blog on Huffington Post about Anne Boleyn myths:
Unknown said…
For those who are interested in Anne, and Henry for that matter, they might like to know that there is a project in the works to do a play that involves two people who believe they are the modern day versions of the queen and king. Harry Houdini also makes an appearance. The play is in the form of a mystery - who was it done to as much as who done it. When its ready, I'll people know.

Roy Schreiber
Unknown said…
It took a lot longer than I had hoped, but the forty-five minute long radio play, In the Real World, is finally available. You can hear it on Sound Cloud [user name royschreiber] It's free!

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