Another reason to pursue a Liberal Arts Education: You find lots of strange things fascinating and never get bored! You will also be really good at cocktail party conversations…
The bones found underneath a parking lot in Leicester, England, are “beyond reasonable doubt” those of King Richard III, experts at the University of Leicester announced today.
Richard III, as you might remember from the eponymous Shakespeare play, died in the last major battle of the War of the Roses in 1485, although his resting place remained largely a mystery. At least until now.
Why are the archaeologists so certain they’ve found their man? Well, for starters the skeleton’s wounds are consistent with accounts of the fight that killed the king. According to the New York Times, there were also other potential giveaways. The remains were of the right age—the king was 32 when he died—and showed signs of a diet rich in protein, something indicative of a privileged life at the time. There was also a curve to the spine consistent with scoliosis, said to give Richard his hunchback. Oh, and the bones were found at the exact spot that priest and historian John Rouse identified as the king’s final resting place way back in 1490.*
That was all well and good but not enough for a beyond-reasonable-doubt conclusion. That came only after experts got the results of a recent DNA test that showed samples taken from the skeleton matched up with those taken from two known descendants of the the House of Plantagenet, the royal family that ended its reign with Richard III’s death.
Fascinating article from Salon.com about Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and the restored edition about to come out…
Altogether, the revised 1891 manuscript that eventually appeared in book form encompassed a whole series of changes and omissions designed to alter and conventionalize the “moral,” such as it is, by heightening the beautiful Dorian’s monstrosity and thus rendering him a far less sympathetic character than he had appeared to be in the original typescript. Looking at the typescript, then, we find more comprehensible Wilde’s oft-quoted statement on the book’s autobiographical elements: “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be — in other ages, perhaps.”
Frankel has done much to place Wilde and his novel within the context of their time — “a heated atmosphere of hysteria and paranoia” about sexual “deviation.” The 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act was extended by Henry Labouchère, a radical member of Parliament, to include the criminalization of acts of “gross indecency” between men. (The Labouchère amendment was not repealed until 1956.) The vagueness of the amendment’s language — just what acts did “gross indecency” encompass, anyway? — caused fear amounting to paranoia among the homosexual community; as Frankel writes, “The conditions had been created for a series of homosexual scandals that would rock London and increase the level of homophobia in British society.”
The so-called Cleveland Street Affair, which broke only months before “Dorian Gray’s” first appearance, was the most spectacular of these, involving the infiltration and arrest of a ring of “rent boys” who worked by day as telegraph messengers and by night as prostitutes out of a brothel in Cleveland Street. A number of aristocrats and prominent military men were implicated; Lord Arthur Somerset, the Prince of Wales’ equerry, fled the country; a shadow was even cast on the name of the prince’s elder son, though that suspicion was subsequently proved groundless. “In the wake of the Cleveland Street Scandal,” Frankel explains, “Wilde’s emphasis on Dorian Gray’s youthfulness, or susceptibility to the ‘corruption’ of an older aristocratic man (Lord Henry), is one of the features of the novel that most outraged reviewers.”