"It is historical fiction -- a noble genre going back to Shakespeare and well before -- not history," [said Columbia University historian Eric Foner].And yet we're pressured to go see that movie because of the way it explains history.
By coincidence, Shakespeare is getting some negative press this week, after bones found under a parking lot in England were determined to have belonged to Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet dynasty, supplanted by the Tudors, whom Shakespeare had reason to flatter as he portrayed Richard III as a villain.
No “bunch-backed toad,” no “slave of nature and the son of hell,” no “bottled spider,” the exhumed Richard is enjoying a remake as a physically challenged fellow with spinal curvature who might have starred in last year’s London Paralympics if given the chance.Imagine a movie about Lincoln that does not cater to the tastes of the present-day dynasty. There's plenty of old material to rake over. He wasn't called "bunch-backed toad" or a "bottled spider," but he was called "The obscene ape of Illinois." And:
Alas he got clobbered several times with a halberd (presumably wielded by a halberdier ignoring late 15th century safety regulations), and may have suffered the ignominy of being sodomized with an unlicensed dagger while being carried naked on horseback to Leicester. ....
“I’ve spoken to scoliosis experts and they say acute scoliosis like that was painful,” Philippa Langley, a Richard III enthusiast, told The Guardian. “So we know that he was working through the pain barrier every day just to do his job.... He had an incredibly powerful, strong work ethic. This man never stopped. He was on a horse every day, fighting skirmishes, doing everything they had to do.”
The illustrious Honest Old Abe has continued during the last week to make a fool of himself and to mortify and shame the intelligent people of this great nation. His speeches have demonstrated the fact that although originally a Herculean rail splitter and more lately a whimsical story teller and side splitter, he is no more capable of becoming a statesman, nay, even a moderate one, than the braying ass can become a noble lion. People now marvel how it came to pass that Mr. Lincoln should have been selected as the representative man of any party. His weak, wishy-washy, namby-pamby efforts, imbecile in matter, disgusting in manner, have made us the laughing stock of the whole world. The European powers will despise us because we have no better material out of which to make a President. The truth is, Lincoln is only a moderate lawyer and in the larger cities of the Union could pass for no more than a facetious pettifogger. Take him from his vocation and he loses even these small characteristics and indulges in simple twaddle which would disgrace a well bred school boy.