March 19, 2013
SLIDESHOW: Literary graffiti
by Nick Davies
The folks over at Buzzfeed are always good for a fun photo set, and on Friday they posted one that will appeal to book nerds and street art enthusiasts alike. It’s a series of twenty photos that depict examples of literary graffiti, which reference works ranging from Emily Dickinson’s poetry to The Lord of the Rings to The Little Prince to the novels of George Orwell (both Animal Farm and 1984, in different instances).
The photos themselves come from lots of different sources, and some of them make it easy enough to track down where you could find these instances of literary vandalism (or at least the general geographic area). Others, unfortunately, come from Flickr pages without captions or websites in languages that I can’t decipher. For instance, the best I can tell you about the one that depicts Slaughterhouse Five is that it’s from a site that’s written in Macedonian, so if I had to guess…I’d say that one is somewhere in Macedonia.
The T.S. Eliot photo is much easier to track down, along the River Thames with a clear view of London in the background; so if you’re interested in seeing any of these, that’s probably a good one to try. Or just scout around your own hometown to see if any bookish street thugs have taken to tagging the buildings in your area with lengthy quotes from War and Peace or Jane Eyre.
Here’s a slideshow of some of my favorites from Buzzfeed’s roundup:
A quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, complete with the classic cover art of the titular character.
A snippet of The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot, “Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song,” painted along the Thames, fittingly enough.
Great Gatsby graffiti, featuring the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, in West Palm Beach, FL
This famous line from Macbeth looks appropriately ominous.
A passage from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake.
The beginning of an Emily Dickinson poem, fittingly illustrated.
The famous opening to Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl.”
This graffiti referencing George Orwell’s 1984 depicts the artist, Tyler, as Big Brother.
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.