Smithsonian Channel Details Quest to Recover Richard III’s Body

UPDATE: The embedded viewer has been disabled by YouTube. The video now requires a link but will prove worth the extra click. My apologies.

While I process all the happenings this weekend at the 2014 California International Antiquarian Book Fair, I thought you might enjoy this video (recommended to me by YouTube…they’re learning!) explaining in great detail the recent quest to recover Richard III’s body from a Leicester parking lot.

A part of me, quite honestly, resists this type of slick, made-for-TV production. Yet I can’t help but be thankful that the truth, for Richard’s sake, whatever it turns out to be, gets made known to a wide, general audience.  He deserves nothing less.

As a recently-published review of Shakespeare’s Richard III suggests, the time may not be far off when theatergoers demand a more nuanced treatment than the typical, over-the-top, Richard-as-evil-henchman performances we have grown accustomed to. What that would look like is anybody’s guess.

It opens up a conundrum, welcome or not, regarding the desirability of absolute fidelity to an author’s intent, even when history discovers the basis for that intent to be patently false. The text will always remain the text [text qua text]. But in light of these events, one might reasonably ask if that should always be the case.

Perhaps Richard III’s lasting legacy will be as another lesson in how a lie told often enough – and well enough – can, over time, be taken for truth.  And that also, just maybe, given enough time, the actual truth will eventually out.

History could be in the midst of radical revision right in front of our very eyes.


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