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Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Jeremy Corbyn, Mary Wollstonecraft and statues to dead people

Erecting monuments should really be left to dictators. Whether stone or bronze, they never have any aesthetic merits and no one regrets it when they are pulled down. They are loved by pigeons and gravestone makers (“Monumental masons”) short of work and that’s about it. They clutter up pavements and spoil otherwise aesthetically pleasing vistas. Rather than trying to fill the fourth plinth, Trafalgar Square would be better with no plinths at all.

Step forward well-known conservative Jeremy Corbyn in support of a monument to Mary Wollstonecraft. Well, Jeremy, can we do a deal? In London, the rule should be this: One up, One down. For every new monument put up to a dead person some old monument to a dead person should come down. Ideally, one with some scrap value. Otherwise, it’s just clutter on clutter. After all, it’s what they do in graveyards, clearing out the old graves and gravestones to make way for new ones.

The rule should only apply to proper life-like statues, not to public sculptures. We could do with more of the latter but far less of the former, one hundred percent less if you ask me. If you want to erect a public statue to some dead person, find a graveyard willing to oblige with a space. 

Anachronism Corner

Bea Rowlatt, one of the campaigners for the Wollstonecraft monument calls her "a pioneering writer on gender equality". Your Starter for Ten: How many times does the word "gender" appear in Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman?

Answer: The correct answer can I believe be found by going to and applying the search term "gender" to Wollstonecraft's text

1 comment:

  1. If the world continues on its present course, we won’t have any statues anyway. Either they will have been smashed up, because they don’t conform to current sensibilities, or packed up and sent back to their place of origin on the basis that our ownership is theft. Who or what will then become the targets for the perpetually indignant?