Before I start today's post, let me first say that I have been having internet issues in the extreme. Our cable provider sent us a new modem that we had to install in order to receive even higher speed internet than we already receive. The installation was a success, but it's been a nightmare since then. I've spent over five hours with service reps trying in vain to fix things. We have internet, but we have random web site blackouts all the time. It's incredibly frustrating when I want to visit a blog or other web site and am not allowed. Often, when I finally get through and leave a comment, as soon as I hit the button to post my comment, the curtain comes down. So, if you wonder why I haven't responded to e-mail or left a comment, I've been attempting to do these things with inconsistent success.
And, now, for something less technical and more exciting, you all must know that they have determined that a skeleton found under the carpark of a British supermarket is indeed Richard III. (Actually, the way they determined that involved a lot of technology, but that's not the point of this post.) I find this absolutely fascinating. The legacy of Richard III hasn't been a pleasant one - we ridicule his supposed physical deformities (and at least the back/hump/scoliosis appears to be accurate), malign his competence as a king, and are fairly certain that he killed his two young nephews, their heirs apparent to the throne, to raise himself to that position.
I thought that, in light of this discovery, I'd take a brief, biased look at Richard III in popular culture. There have been many different versions of Shakespeare's Richard III on film, television, and the stage, and they all seem to treat the visibly disabled king quite harshly. I'm not going to choose any one version to discuss, but I am reminded that in the movie The Goodbye Girl, a quite young Richard Dreyfuss is an actor playing the title role in an off-Broadway version of Richard III. Here's a clip of from the movie where they discuss the title role:
I am going to have to watch this movie again. I don't know how many time I've seen it, but each time I see something new.
Richard III is featured in the very first episode of the first season of Blackadder, which begins on with the Battle of Bosworth, where the king was slain. I first saw this in the 80's, and I love the way it works on multiple levels. I own the series on DVD and watched this episode (The Foretelling) again today and it was perhaps even funnier than the first time I saw it. I'd highly recommend it.
And, finally, for another fictional account of Richard III, perhaps a more sympathetic one, Philippa Gregory's The Kingmaker's Daughter, told from the view of Richard's wife Anne. I have to emphasize, this, like Shakespeare, is fiction. Philippa Gregory does do an enormous amount of research and when reading her books it is tempting to believe every word to be true, but, like most historical novels, a great deal is created in order to fill in details between the facts. This is part of Gregory's The Cousins' War series, and I have to hand it to her, she has a way of making their world come alive. My blog co-pilot Nancy turned me on to her, and I am ever so thankful that she did, as I've enjoyed the many hours I've spent reading these books over the years.
So, that's it for my brief and biased version of Richard III in popular culture through the ages. I have to admit, I'm not an Anglophile and I didn't study much European history in school. I spent more time on American, Latin American, South American, and African history and literature, though I did take a few Shakespearean literature classes. If you would like, you could leave me a comment recommending a British author or a specific book that you think I might enjoy. I've just finished my almost 1,000 page book and am looking for new reading suggestions. Thank you!