Literary Representations: Statues and Sculpture
Our initial idea was to post some photographs of literary figures or characters portrayed in statue or sculpture throughout Sicily. We have decided to widen the net a bit and include any such representations we happen to stumble across. To kick off with, here are a few we've already found on our travels.
Luigi Pirandello, Giardino Inglese in Palermo (Photo: Eixo)
A son of the appropriately titled, Caos, a suburb of Agrigento. His ashes were interred near to his birthplace, under the tree he used for contemplation. This Nobel Laureate wrote short stories and novels, but he is most well-known for his plays, particularly the ground- breaking, Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore (Six Characters In Search of an Author). His work dissects the multiple perspectives that can confuse and contradict any modern life. His own life was complicated by the severe mental illness of his wife. His universal appeal can be seen by the fact there is another sculpture in a Buenos Aires park, not a million miles from that other Palermo.
Commissario Montalbano, Porto Empedocle
Andrea Camilleri’s Sicilian detective leans on a streetlamp; his expression is one of benign resignation. The representation is based on the author’s interpretation of his Inspector's appearance, rather than the TV incarnation. There is scant reference to Salvo’s physical characteristics in the books, but Camilleri sees him with a full head of hair and a moustache. The statue is located in Via Roma, home to the real Caffè Albanese (now Bar Vigata), which supplies Montalbano with his favourite Cannoli.
Arthur Conan Doyle, Crowborough (Photo: Pat Edwards)
Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous author of Sherlock Holmes, spent his final years in Crowborough, a town in the South East of England. In addition to his writing career, Doyle was a medical doctor, political pamphleteer, crusader for the correction of miscarriages of justice and a renowned spiritualist. He belonged to 'The Ghost Club', a society set up to investigate supernatural phenomena. His best-known creation, Sherlock Holmes, appeared in 56 short stories and 4 novels. Only 4 of these texts are not narrated by his sidekick, Doctor Watson.
Miguel de Cervantes, Seville
Writer of that classic of Western literature, Don Quixote. A former soldier, who suffered what was to prove a permanent injury to his left hand during the famous Battle of Lepanto. He was also taken captive by Algerian corsairs and held hostage for 5 years. Always short of money, he was jailed for debt in Seville, where this statue now stands. Many experts in the work of Cervantes believe he conceived of Don Quixote whilst incacerated there. Other works, such as Rinconete and Cortadillo show Sevillian influences.
The Leopard, Santa Margherita di Belice
This wrought iron work commemorates The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's only novel. It is on the wall in the courtyard of Lampedusa's reconstructed palace in Santa Margherita. Descriptions of the original building, largely destroyed by an earthquake, appear in the novel. It is the rural retreat for the aristocratic central character, Prince Salina, and his family. Giuseppe Tomasi based the Prince on his great-grandfather and mirrored much historical fact in this retelling of the Risorgimento in Sicily. The time-worn aristocrat watches as the ancien régime crumbles.
Leonardo Sciascia, Racalmuto
Sciascia permanently strolling through the centre of his beloved Racalmuto. An insightful commentator on Sicilian society, he wrote essays, works of research, newspaper pieces and novels. His novels often pinpoint the deep contradictions and divisions in society. Le Parrocchie di Regalpetra (published as Salt in the Wound in its English version) focuses on a fictionalised town that, in Sciascia’s own words, could have been Racalmuto. His also wrote Il giorno della civetta (The Day of the Owl) one of the first novels to look at the problems surrounding organised crime.