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"Preserving the Name Alive" versus "Getting About": Samuel Butler and the Problem of Memorial Sculpture

Gilmore, Dehn (2022) "Preserving the Name Alive" versus "Getting About": Samuel Butler and the Problem of Memorial Sculpture. Victorian Literature and Culture, 50 (3). pp. 575-599. ISSN 1060-1503. doi:10.1017/s1060150321000115.

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One of the most heated areas of discussion around monumental sculpture today is whether problematic past statues should be torn down. But what has been missing from conversations is a sense of prehistory: a sense, even among the monument-mad Victorians, that a time could come when statues from the past might adversely affect life in the present. From logistical concerns that too many statues would choke up flow through city streets, to concerns that effecting too many statues of unworthy people might take up limited space better saved for future worthies, to anxieties about visual distraction, plenty of commentators argued for a moratorium on new production. Others went further and proposed destruction. In his satirical 1872 work Erewhon, Samuel Butler would imagine a society that memorialized its dead not with gravestones but with life-size statues, and imagine a time when "the city had become so overrun with these pests, that there was no way of getting about." He would also envision that the only solution was wholesale demolition. The scenario he sketched may have seemed one of the least hyperbolic of any in the novel, and the least foreign to his contemporaries.

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Gilmore, Dehn0000-0002-0985-6265
Issue or Number:3
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:117120
Deposited By: Melissa Ray
Deposited On:29 Sep 2022 21:56
Last Modified:29 Sep 2022 21:56

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