Watch Knocking Nelson Off His Pillar: Writers and the Meaning of Statues
We are delighted to make our third annual Dublin UNESCO City of Literature Lecture, presented by Prof. Chris Morash, broadcast from Dublin City Library & Archive, Pearse St., available to watch on our YouTube Channel.
Knocking Nelson Off His Pillar: Writers and the Meaning of Statues
From 1809 until early in the morning of March 8, 1966 – when his statue was blown up – Admiral Nelson surveyed the city of Dublin from atop his pillar on O’Connell Street: “The grandest thing we have in Dublin”, according to Joyce’s friend, the writer Oliver St. John Gogarty.
However, long before the dynamite did its work, Dublin’s writers had been finding other ways of subverting the meaning of Nelson’s statue.
Nelson and his pillar feature, of course, in James Joyce’s Ulysses, but also in poems by W.B. Yeats, Eavan Boland, Austin Clarke, the American poet John Berryman, and others. In fact, a whole literature grew up around the Pillar.
In the context of particularly intense and widespread debates about the meaning of public statues over the past year, this lecture asks if a statue can knocked off its pillar with a pen.