Hillary protests at photos of Mallory

AT THE Hay-on-Wye literary festival yesterday, one of this century's most enduring heroes spoke of his "absolute disgust" at media exploitation of the long dead man who might rob him of his status.

Sir Edmund Hillary, who with Tenzing Norgay first climbed Everest and returned alive, said the recent discovery of George Mallory's body near the summit had failed to prove that the earlier climber had reached the peak in 1923.

Hillary attacked the use of photographs of the frozen corpse. "He was a heroic figure. To see Mallory's body lying on the rock with his legs broken was appalling."

Hillary has never ceased to be a hero but for F W de Klerk, another guest at Hay, the literary circuit means a dogged attempt to shed the tag of repentant villain.

On the eve of his country's second free election, the last president of apartheid South Africa defended his role as a catalyst of change. His reforms meant shaking hands with veteran radicals who to this day retain close links with the Communist Party. After his talk yesterday de Klerk drove off and did some more of the same.

At an elegant country-house party hosted by the festival sponsors, the modernising Afrikaner met Professor Eric Hobsbawm, eminent historian and modernising Marxist.

Other writers had different sorts of peaks to climb. Edna O'Brien, who has taken a vacation from fiction by writing a short life of James Joyce, said that her friend Philip Roth had commiserated with her on the hard labour that biography requires. "Philip gave me a little elbow and said, `The made up stuff is easier, isn't it?'"

The cult New York novelist Paul Auster made up half a dozen novels before any publisher would take him seriously. Auster, who has renamed the festival location "Ham-on-Rye" swapped compliments with Robert McCrum, the editor who first showed faith in his work. Auster admitted that at his first publication dinner, his gratitude to McCrum overflowed to the extent that he knocked a full bottle of red wine down his publisher's white shirt. Intense fans of Auster quizzed their idol on his major influences.

How about Saul Bellow, for instance, asked one enthusiast? "I have never read a novel by Saul Bellow," Auster coolly revealed. "I tried to once but I couldn't stick with it."

Among Hay's plethora of bookstalls is a wall of shabby tomes called "Honesty Books". No one takes any cash. Instead a notice politely requests punters to leave the correct amount. Paul Auster must surely be their best customer.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable