I am rather fond of a statue where I can sit next to an author and feel I am about to engage him or her in conversation. An excellent example is the statue of William Faulkner, Nobel prize-winning writer, in the town of Oxford, Mississippi. He sits outside Oxford City Hall, surrounded by buildings and views he described in his novel The Sound and the Fury.
The statue was placed there to mark 100 years since his birth in September 1897 – it is made from bronze. Faulkner is dressed in his usual dapper style, with hat and tweed coat, and holding a pipe. However, the decision to erect the statue was not without controversy. A magnolia tree had to be chopped down to make room for it, and Faulkner’s relatives felt that the town’s residents had never really understood him, so should not be making tourist capital out of a statue. It was the work of local sculptor Bill Beckwith.
One of the very best literary walks I have ever done was with Professor Jay Watson. He took my tour group around the town on a walk that connected with places and characters in The Sound and the Fury, and it ended with a visit to Faulkner’s grave in the local cemetery (fans often leave tiny whisky bottles for the writer on his grave). On the walk, we saw the statue and I felt that Faulkner was still alive and well in Mississippi today. I loved sitting down to ‘have a chat’, though I didn’t tell him that I once got an A+ for a university essay on As I Lay Dying. I wonder what he’d have said in return?